Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ambur: The County of Stargaze

Continued from “The Counties of Skyglint & Stardust”

This last dominion in the Kingdom of Ambur is a long sliver of coastline stretching 80 miles north to south between the Strait of Ambur and the Ambur River. Its successive counts were chiefly responsible for pressuring Amburian monarchy to issue the Starpoint Edict, and for provoking the Twin Peaks Campaign soon thereafter. They bore the largest share of the cost of the military campaign into what would later become Aran territory. The invasion eventually failed and, as a result, the heirs to the county have born grudges against both Foresthome and neighboring Ar. Soon after Ar established their hegemony over the eastern shores of Crystal Lake, the Counts of Stargaze vowed to never again be caught at a disadvantage.

Mystara Alphatia Ambur Hex Map
County of Stargaze -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex
The campaign nearly bankrupted the county. Today, farming prevails along the river, yielding velvet-coated winter pears, magically enhanced turnips and spinach, and the local specialty—explosive mustard seeds used in the making of the heart-warming condiment. Fishing and sheep-herding are more common along the coast. With inland farming, these generate a meager income for the counts. The lack of a large town is the biggest drawback. The present count, his family, and their retinues reside at Perihelion Castle, an imposing stronghold overlooking the Amber River’s mouth. The fact that royal funds largely financed its construction has been quietly forgotten, save for a required presence among its garrison of a Queen’s Detachment. Perihelion-upon-Ambur, a village with a port, occupies the lower banks at the river’s mouth just outside the castle. All river traffic must stop here and pay passage fees, generating a substantial part of the county’s income. Another source of cash resides in the salt mine halfway down the county. The challenge for Stargaze has always been the development of a better source of income, which coincides with the vows of its counts never again to be caught at a disadvantage.

The Great Observatory: Since the county lacks any sort of a magical optical school, the idea dawned that major educational centers in neighboring dominions should be exploited. Thus was born the idea of the Great Observatory. It started out as an experiment to combine all sciences derived from the teachings of Lady Alathazam. The result yielded a fantastic tool for astronomy, largely financed by the Amburian monarchy. In exchange for the cost of facility maintenance and expansion, Stargaze retains the lion’s share of the income the observatory generates. This was the first goal. The second was to develop the facility as a secret weapon. Its location on top a tall rocky promontory (3,000’ above sea level) assures a good line of sight from its dome to nearly anywhere within a 360-mile-radius (45 hexes), which includes all of Ambur and the entire strip of land east of Crystal Lake. Intervening mountains and the curvature of Mystara’s surface are entirely irrelevant since the Great Observatory relies on advanced luxoflexion to see past large obstacles. The telescope does, however have a minimum range of 12 miles, beneath which the device cannot be physically aimed.

I’d like to see them try their little trick now.
Count Perihelion XII

Dubbed by some in Starpoint as “the telescope to end all telescopes,” it has been fitted with many optical enhancements that aren’t available on Ambur’s marketplace for the arcane. It is heavily guarded, and those who wish to use the observatory for purely scientific research—such as stargazing, a task for which it was originally promised—must now obtain a royal warrant. Access is for a limited time, considering the very long waiting list. To those granted usage, it isn’t entirely intuitive that the telescope can actually be angled to point toward the ground, and its potential military uses are kept secret. The large presence of both county and royal troops guarding the facility might be a clue. The Queen of Ambur, the garrison’s commander, the House of Perihelion, and a small circle of mages managing the telescope are the only people to know about the observatory’s full capabilities.

So far, the telescope relies on optical enhancements sufficient to recognize facial traits up to 360 miles, as well as deep space observation. Luxoflexion available to this telescope includes all relevant options. Many optomantic lenses have been installed as part of this telescope’s array. Astromantic enchantments allow scrolling up to 360 days back in time to observe prior events in Ar and Ambur, or eons when looking into outer space. Transposition enables effects up to Class VI. Additional transpositional fittings also permit remote spellcasting directly through the telescope, up to a 160-mile range (20 hexes). That part is a carefully guarded secret.

Spell Level
Max. Ranges (miles)
Area of Effect Magnification
Saving Throw Penalties
1
160
times 10
no save
2
144
times 7
-8
3
128
times 5
-6
4
112
times 3
-5
5
96
times 2
-4
6
80
+75%
-3
7
64
+50%
-2
8
48
+25%
-1
9
32
Unchanged
Unchanged

Area of Effect Magnification: this alters the spell’s area of effect and also the magnitude of the spell. Unless a DM decides otherwise, magnification also affects data listed under “Duration:” and “Effect:” at the beginning of a spell’s description. Fractions are always rounded up. For example, a death spell could be cast up to 80 miles away (not 240’), cover an area 105’x105’x105’ (rather than 60’x60’x60’), and affect up to 7d8 hit dice of creatures (instead of 4d8). Magnification does not, however, change the immunity to this spell of the undead or creatures with 8 or more Hit Dice. On the other hand, a lightning bolt could be shot up to 128 miles away, cover an area 300’ long and 25’ wide, and incur a –6 penalty to saving throws, but with no other alteration to the spell. Extreme ranges involved prevent any chance of lightning bolts bouncing back at the telescope. A light spell would illuminate a 300’ diameter 160 miles away, last 120 Turns, and forbid any saving throws. The standard rule on maximum damage applies (RC pg. 32), limiting harm to individual targets to 20d6.

Mystara Alphatia Ambur Heraldry
Safeties: A different command word for each spell level is needed in order to cast magic through the telescope. Only Queen Elshethara knows the command words for spell levels 8-9. Furthermore, the telescope bears further enchantments that prevent viewing the royal palace and several other buildings in Starpoint without a command word, which the queen alone possesses. Levers needed to aim the telescope beneath the horizon are concealed inside a wizard locked compartment under the device, which isn’t known to warranted visitors. Yet another command known only to the administrators is needed to safely reach these levers. If tampered with, two magical traps are triggered: 1. cloudkill (centered around the telescope’s base) and 2. power word blind (cast at 20th level).

The trouble with the telescope is that it can’t be used to its full potential without alerting neighboring realms of its capabilities. For now, Queen Elshetharra prefers keeping the matter quiet because her immediate neighbor, the Kingdom of Ar, would be outraged. From a political aspect, it would provoke a rift between the two realms. On the other hand, Queen Elshetharra is prepared to defend her position in view of the tremendous tactical advantage Ar enjoys over Ambur because of their skyships. In any event, knowledge of the telescope’s capabilities is likely to damage relations between the two realms. Six military encampments occupy the ring of hexes surrounding the rocky promontory, in addition to the observatory’s own garrison. Aside from local roads, the area is thoroughly off limits to visitors, and heavily patrolled. Several barges are kept aside in Starpoint to allow for the shipping of reinforcements, should a need arise. Furthermore, the capital’s skyships patrol the observatory’s vicinity and the nearby border with Ar.

Great Observatory Map Key

This map is meant as a rough overview of the observatory. Several blank areas are shown for general positioning only, and should include a number of separate chambers. The main entrance, 25’ wide, features heavily reinforced double doors plated with carved bronze. They brim with enchantments, so much so that visitors can feel hair on the back of their necks rising as if charged with static electricity. One smaller panel, about 5’x12’, opens at the base of the right-hand door. These doors are barred and wizard locked at night. Main doors are opened only for royal events or to accommodate occasional carriages.

Unless indicated otherwise, levitating globes light the entire facility. They can be switched on and off, or their outputs adjusted with a command word. The facilities are magically ventilated and heated through cloud-like faces carved in the rock.  The front doors are resistant to spells levels 1-3, and can respond to damage with magic missiles, protection from normal missiles, phantasmal force, hold person, charm monster, confusion, polymorph other, dimension door, etc (at the DM's discretion). The best way to get in is to obtain a royal warrant and various items while remaining as a guest, which will permit access to the telescope (magical key, spellcasting medallions)..

Mystara Alphatia Ambur Telescope

A1. Grand Hallway: this cross-shaped chamber stretches 145’ west to east long and 45’ north to south, with two lateral wings 50’x45’. Pillars and arches, reaching 150’ high into darkness, buttress the stone vault which is carved directly into the base of the observatory’s promontory. About 30’ over head, a giant pendulum swings back and forth at the center of the hallway, its slow movement extending into the lateral wings. A set of 20’-tall double doors stands opposite from the entrance.

Four narrow embrasures hide in the shadows, about 55’ above the double doors opposite the entrance. The pendulum is part of the mechanism that keeps track of time and also provides the mechanical force enabling the rotation and aiming of the telescope (see Area D2a for details). The pendulum’s arm is made of smooth, polished brass. Continual darkness conceals the top end of the pendulum’s arm, where it connects with the grand hallway’s stone vault.

A2. Stables: this is the area where horses and royal carriages are housed.

A3. Military Quarters: this area is limited to the observatory’s garrison and includes dormitories, officers’ bedchambers and their offices, mess halls, a chapel, an armory, a water well, and utility chambers.  The DM may expand this area both above and below the entrance level.

A4. Guest Quarters: this section provides bedchambers and meeting halls for guests and the observatory’s administrators, including royal quarters, offices, workrooms, a library, and utility rooms. The DM may expand this area both above and below the entrance level.

A5. Ancillary Quarters: this area is for servants and cooks, providing their living quarters, equipment and consumables storage, workshops, a water well, a refuse pit, and other utility rooms.  An unbelievably well-informed cave-dweller could conceivably climb up the wells from an underground river.

A6. Stairwell Lower Landing: a corridor 10’x45’ extends north-south. An archway opposite the double doors enables access to a central chamber with a water pool and a support pillar standing in its middle. Lighting in the corridor is embedded in the walls just above eye level. In the darkness over head are three slits connecting through the stone vault with the chamber above (Area B1). They are normally shuttered. A stairwell past the corridor’s northeast corner allows access to the upper floor. It rises at a steep 45° angle, or 25 feet per section. If the double doors are forced open, an illusion shows someone looking like a mage fleeing past the corridor's southeast corner. To anyone looking past that corner, the illusion also depicts a stairwell heading to a lower floor, and the phantasmal fugitive disappearing past the next corner. If anyone touches the 10’-wide southeast wall, a 10’x10’x30’ pit opens. A gelatinous cube lives at the bottom. Two-inch-wide holes concealed with dirt can be detected in the floor across the entrances from Area A1 and the fountain chamber. They are part of an elaborate trap (see Area B1).

B1. Guard Room: a passageway matches the layout of the corridor on the lower level (Area A6). This area is generally kept unlit. Two magically heated oil vats stand in a 25’x25’ chamber opening directly onto the passageway. If the vats are tipped, grooves carved in the stone floor channel the boiling oil to slits aligned with the corridor below. Wooden shutters can easily be swung open. Four arrow slits on the west wall enable archers or spellcasters to target the Grand Hallway (Area A1). A weapons rack stands in the back of the room. A large stone ball hangs from the vault just above Area B1’s southwest corner. A lever in the pillar at the center of Area B1 releases the boulder, causing it to roll down the stairs and through the corridor in Area A6 (and into the pit, if triggered). When the boulder is released, iron bars rise from holes concealed Area A6’s floor, blocking the two entrances to that corridor. A low wall separates the stairs to Area A6, providing good cover against anyone coming up. At least a dozen guards remain at this post, some with spellcasting ability commensurate with the skills of intruders.

C1. Lower Teleporter Room: stairs from Area B1 lead to this square chamber. A magical circle lies on the floor at the center. If it is tampered with, one or more gargoyles (commensurate with the intruders’ overall experience) start teleporting into this chamber, one per round. They will attack anyone they see and pursue them to the lower levels. These creatures vanish 3d6+2 rounds after they initially appeared, or if they attempt to exit into Area A1. A command word, issued to guests with a royal warrant for use of the telescope, enables one to enter the magical circle and teleport to Area D1, just beneath the top of the rocky promontory.

D1. Upper Teleporter Room: a magical circle at the center of this chamber connects with the teleporter in Area C1. It is safe because no gargoyles can appear in this room. Double doors allow access to Area D2. This room and Area D2 are enchanted to completely prevent all forms of teleportation in or out (including dimension door and travel-related abilities), other than through the magical circle. The dome and outer walls in these two rooms are also immune to all stone shape and other stone-related effects (such as passwall, rock-to-mud, etc). Spell-use, whether wizardly or clerical, is suppressed in these two rooms, except for bearers of special medallions (born by the observatory’s administrators and the garrison commander). Magical items are, however, unaffected. The doorway to Area D2 also generates a permanent dispel magic ability which negates any prior spell or spell-like ability still affecting those who teleported into this chamber, such as (for example) invisibility, charm, resist fire, protection spells, etc. Magical items such as potions are unharmed, although their effects are momentarily disrupted.

D2. Observatory Dome Chamber: this circular chamber covers an area 85’ across. A huge, seamless stone dome arching 70’ over head does not appear to have any openings. In the middle of the chamber stands a multilevel, 45’-tall, wood and iron structure surmounted by an immense brass telescope, about 75’ long. Rail-mounted posts enable the entire structure to pivot. Supports at the center of the structure extend into a 15’-deep pit. Ropes, pulleys, and crenellated supports enable the telescope to be aimed. Twelve 35’-tall iron bas-relief statues embedded in the outer walls depict great astronomers of Ambur’s history, all in postures praising the telescope. A graduated band adorned with gilded runes, astrological symbols, and numbers mark the bottom edge of the dome, just above the bas-relief heads. If a statue is attacked, it pulls free of its stone recess and defends itself (see Area D2e). There is a 95% chance that a mage and an apprentice will be working at the telescope at any time of the day or night, as this telescope is capable of ignoring daylight refraction to observe space.

D2a. Main Chamber’s Ground Floor: this view shows the disposition of grooves carved in the floor, which serve as rails for the telescope’s mobile supports. This map displays the ground floor without the various platforms leading up to the telescope. A staircase enables access to the bottom of Area D2b.

D2b. Main Support Pit: the map area shaded in yellow shows the bottom of the pit, 15’ below the main chamber’s ground level. Wood and iron beams occupy most of this pit, providing the main support for the telescope’s mount. A sturdy bronze chest lies in a secret compartment in the floor at the eastern edge of the support structure. This chest is solidly fastened to the floor and wizard locked. It contains levers allowing the telescope to be aimed beneath the horizon. A command word is needed to safely open it. If the chest is physically tampered with, two magical traps are triggered: 1. cloudkill (enough to fill the pit and the row of ground floor squares bordering the pit’s edge) and 2. power word blind (cast at 20th level).

A wizard locked trapdoor is located exactly at the bottom center of the support structure. It leads to an engine room filled with clockwork mechanics needed to aim the telescope. A vertical shaft about 2,000' deep, 10’ diameter, and fitted with stonework providing hand- and footholds leads down from this utility chamber to the top of the huge pendulum described in Area A1. Chains connecting the pendulum with the clockwork mechanism run the entire length of the shaft. Short of breaking through the dome, it is the only other access route to the telescope aside from the teleportation device. It requires jumping on the swinging pendulum base, scaling its arm, and ascending through the service well. This shaft is secret, rarely visited (if ever), and is home to random creepy-crawlies and large spiders. This shaft is also trapped. At the top and bottom of the shaft, hidden compartments house levers that disarm the trap. If the trap wasn’t disarmed, all hand- and footholds retract into the stonework when someone reaches the shaft’s midpoint. As with the doorway between Areas D1 and D2, the shaft’s top and bottom rims (where the hidden compartments are located) also feature permanent dispel magic effects.

D2c. Level 1 Platform: this elevated surface is made of a sturdy wooden latticework fitted with an outer handrail. It lies 25’ above the chamber’s floor. Ropes and pulleys connect the edges of this platform to fittings along the telescope, two levels higher, and to a chamber underneath the central supports’ pit (see Area D2b). Circular rails can be seen just beneath the latticework where central posts connect with the the telescope’s structure. Four external supports mounted on wheeled bogeys stabilize the telescope’s mount and its platforms. Two narrow flights of stairs enable access from the floor to this level. Small wheels at the bottom of these stairs enable them to rotate with the rest of the telescope’s structure. A shorter staircase leads to the next platform, 10’ higher (area D2d).

D2d. Level 2 Platform: this intermediary access platform is similar to the previous level in its construction. A circular landing enables access to mechanical workings just beneath the telescope. Wooden stairs connect from a 10’x10’ square area to the structure’s top level, 10’ higher.

D2e. Level 3 Platform: this small area features a single astronomer seat next to small table and an array of levers, pedals, and wheels. A brass tube extends from the side of the telescope, through which astronomers look (therefore facing opposite from the direction of the telescope). On the side of this tube lies a keyhole. The controls are meant to maneuver the telescope, including the structure’s rotation and the telescope’s elevation.Small levers manually activate the various enchanted optomantic lenses. The keyhole is part of a final security device. Tampering with the telescope’s commands without inserting the required magical key results in the twelve bas-relief animating. If awakened, they attack anyone in the chamber. They are tall enough to reach the top of the telescope structure.These are iron statues (RC page 208) whose HD should be adjusted to reflect the skills and experience of intruders. Only four magical keys exist. They lie in the possession of Queen Elshethara, the observatory’s head administrator, Count Perihelion, and one visiting guest with a warrant to access the telescope. This last key is returned to the head administrator when the guest leaves, or is most likely handed to the next visitor listed on the long waiting list. When the magical key is inserted as required, the portion of the dome obstructing the telescope’s line of sight becomes entirely translucent, the effect moving to match the telescope’s aim.

The last element shown on the map displays all of the platforms seen from the top. If the ropes and pulleys are cut off and an attempt made thereafter to move any part of the telescope, serious damage will ensue in the engine room beneath the main support pit (Area D2b). As a result of such damage, the link to the pendulum will shatter, releasing its chains which will thunder down the shaft and crash into Area A1 below. The earthshaking collapse is certain to alert anyone there of mischief under the dome and provoke maximum armed response. The noise of fouled machinery (springs snapping, gears grinding, chains falling) and an ominous rumble can be heard as well through the stone floor in Area D2.


Master Periastram 
Lord Administrator of the Observatory

Mystara Alphatia Ambur Heraldry
This mage is what upper-crust Amburian aristocracy snidely refers to as “petty landless nobility.” There was a time when Master Periastram’s forebears commanded baronial status, but following the failure of the Twin Peaks campaign, whose leadership had been entrusted to his kin, his family was ruined and the precious title sold for cash. The House of Periastram now holds on precariously to its minimal wizardly status accorded to spellcasting Alphatians. He is one of the rare mages to have earned a degree from each of Ambur’s teaching centers.

Master Periastram resents the fate his forefathers bequeathed him, and the red tail added to the family’s heraldic lion—a sign of infamy. His requests to Queen Elshethara for a baronial elevation have so far remained unanswered, despite his good record as Lord Administrator of the Observatory. By tradition, any such request must obtain approval from the majority of counts. From Master Periastram’s point of view, the latter are a gaggle of foppish, self-adoring snobs who look down upon his forebears’ failure in the south as if they blamed him personally for “that sorry event no Amburian wants to talk about.”

Bitter and disgruntled, the managing mage has pursued nefarious aims. His official functions at the observatory enable him relatively frequent access time to the telescope, usually in response to a request for confidential information from the queen. Exploiting this precious privilege, Master Periastram has been spying on various nobles of the kingdom. After each session, he transfers incriminating phantasmal footage onto a small crystal ball for possible future use. Relying on an alias, the administrator then blackmails his victims for cash or favors that indirectly benefit him.  It is worth noticing that, despite Periastram's dubious pedigree, the queen favors his tenure at the observatory as a counterbalance to the count's otherwise-unchallenged influence there.

While working at the telescope, Master Periastram discovered that its disinvisibulating lens had been magically tampered with. He doesn’t know who did it, but understands why—which prompted him not to take action. After magical analysis, he found that this lens ceased to detect invisible whenever the telescope was pointed at a certain spot in the sky. After temporarily replacing the tampered lens and observing the sky at that spot, he unveiled the presence of a heretofore-unknown celestial body gravitating just above northeastern Ar. It is the evidence of the secret Alphania Quest engineered by followers of Palartarkan. Master Periastram, once again, was profoundly offended that he hadn’t been brought into this confidence and that an unknown party had altered the telescope—his telescope—without his knowledge. He suspects his subordinate administrators, the queen herself, and perhaps Count Perihelion as well. But he holds no proof.

Shortly after this discovery, he decided to become an informant for Empress Eriadna, in exchange for which he expects to be granted a higher status and a domain in Vertiloch, perhaps even a backseat at the Grand Council of Wizards in Sundsvall. He hasn’t revealed to anyone what he knows of the Alphania Quest (or the hidden nature of the telescope), saving this valuable information as a bargaining chip to negotiate an imperial pardon should he ever get in trouble for routinely blackmailing members of the Amburian upper-class.

Appearance & Personality: Master Periastram appears to be in his mid-sixties. Of medium height and build, but he owns a paunch from long hours peering through the telescope. The rest of his body is emaciated. Thick hair and eyebrows like avalanches waiting to happen crown a fierce set of wrinkles above and between squinting dark amber eyes. A bulbous nose bisects his face, between cheekbones like twin stone escarpments. His chin angles out and up beneath an unkempt bristle of yellowish white whiskers. Abrupt with his subordinates, he keeps his gruffness to himself when attending to his duties with important visitors. His inner feelings of bitterness, hatred, and anger reveal themselves in acidic statements spat in a pointed tenor with little inflection, which he occasionally fails to suppress. Devoid of empathy for anyone, the Lord Administrator acts as if everyone’s life revolved around his problems, and his are consequently the only ones worth attention.

"Mama always said life was like an unlabeled potion. You never know what you're gonna get." 
Quote from an alternate timeline

Master Periastram: M21, AC2, hp44, MV 120’(40’), AT 1 dagger, Dmg 1d4+1, Save M21, ML8, AL N; St11, In18, Wi13, Dx14, Co 13, Ch12. Magical Items: hat of disguise, robe of blending, magical key, medallion of spellcasting, dagger +1, ring of protection +2, and potion of gargoyle control.

Robe of Blending: as the fabulous potion of the same name, plus a gosh-darned basic Armor Class of 5 for good measure.

Magical Key: disables the iron statues in the observatory’s main chamber if inserted into the telescope’s keyhole.

Medallion of Spellcasting: enables normal spellcasting in the observatory’s main chamber and upper teleporter landing.

Count Perihelion XII, “Strongblade”

Mystara Alphatia Ambur Heraldry
This narcissistic aristocrat often thinks in terms of brute force, legendary battles, and martial glory (his own, of course). In love with his private army—the county’s forces proudly bearing his coat of arms (or else)—he drills them continually, keeping them ready at all times for a hypothetical conflict. As with the Great Observatory’s Lord Administrator, he too never accepted the slight once inflicted upon Ambur and his county in particular as a result of Ar seizing the east shores of Crystal Lake. He still bears a grudge against Master Periastram whose forebears led Ambur’s unfortunate campaign to its historical end. Since he wasn’t able to block the mage’s appointment to the observatory’s lordship, he makes it a matter of principle to act against the administrator’s personal interests wherever possible, such as at the Queen’s Court, and manipulates facts in order to take credit for the mage’s accomplishments. The count also intrigued to earn his youngest son a royal commission as Captain of the Guard at the Great Observatory. A dilemma lingers in his mind and his son’s, both seeking opportunities to set up Master Periastram for failure without jeopardizing the precious telescope.

Not for lack of trying, the Lord Administrator has failed so far to unearth anything concrete that might compromise the House of Perilhelion. On the other hand, he did catch sight of a nocturnal meeting between the count’s older son and some shady types outside the village of Foggy Digs, in Ar’s Wyvern District. The heir to the county teleported away shortly after handing over substantial funds to the other party. After investigating further, Master Periastram concluded these fellows were members of the Grünfold Connection or republican activists. The mage now surmises that the House of Perihelion is somehow implicated in seditious activities across the border. What he hasn’t unveiled yet is that the count is plotting to provoke a new rebellion there and drag Ambur into a war with Ar. Perihelion dreams of recreating the Twin Peaks campaign to recapture the eastern shores of Crystal Lake, thus augmenting his own county. Using the conflict as an excuse, he is certain his son can overcome the Lord Administrator’s unavoidable objections to the telescope's commandeering, after which he will personally take over the facility and use them to eliminate his foes mercilessly—in particular Aran skyships.

Loyalties: Royal troops posted at the observatory are loyal to their captain, until the queen shows up. County troops are always loyal to their captain or the count. Subordinate administrators are loyal to the queen. Master Periastram is loyal to himself or, depending on circumstances, Empress Eriadna (preferably) or Queen Elshethara (as a last resort).

Appearance & Personality: Ramrod-straight, brave, and ready for conflict, Count Perihelion is the epitome of an elven career soldier. His body is still thoroughly muscled and trained even though he’s in his mid to late forties. His bullet-shaped head, which he keeps neatly shaven, makes his elven ears unusually pronounced. Fair skinned, square-faced, and with a long nose knotted from being broken several times, he looks oddly similar to his battered shield. Flashing blue eyes demand nothing less than complete obedience. From between thin lips, he issues orders in a parade-ground baritone. Always marching everywhere at a good clip, the count never admits to fatigue. Temperamentally and morally inflexible, he believes everyone else should be like him. Arrogant and egocentric, Count Perihelion "Strongblade" boldly leads all under his command into whatever fray is available.

You smell that? Do you smell that? Fireballs, son. Nothing else in Mystara smells like that. I love the smell of fireballs in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill fireballed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' body. The smell, you know that scorched-earth smell, the whole hill!  Smelled like. . . victory. Someday this war's gonna end.” 
 Quote from an alternate timeline

Count Perihelion: E16, AC–5, hp48, MV 120’(40’), AT 1 sword, Dmg 1d8+4/+6, Save E10, ML11, AL C; St16, In17, Wi10, Dx13, Co 14, Ch15. Magical Items: potion of healing, ring of water-breathing, suit of armor +2, shield +1, sword +2/+4 vs aquatic creatures (intelligent sword, Chaotic, Int 12—Primary Power: detect magic; Secondary Power: telekinesis), magical key, and spellcasting medallion. Note: using variant rules listed in the RC, pg. 266-267, the elf attacks as a cleric of the same level; saving throws do not improve beyond those described for the standard elven class; spellcasting ability is identical to a magic-user’s of the same level.

This article concludes the Counties of Ambur series. Coming Next: the Kingdom of Frisland. Special thanks to Janet Deaver-Pack for character appearances and editorial support.