Rangers of the North
Minas Daldor is a county on the Gilrain estuary in south-western Lebennin. Set high atop a steep hill, it is protected by a cliff on the seaward side. Its thick walls and imposing setting make it one of Lebennin’s strongest holds.
The Master of Minas Daldor swears allegiance to the Crown and the Lord of Lebennin, but his county is administered by the Legate of Lebennivet. Traditionally, taxes first go to Fanuilond. Between four and ten times a year, the county’s representative also traveled to Fanuilond, where he sat as a non-voting member on the board of representatives. The Master od Minas Daldor is also the overseer of County Daldor, and had traditionally a strong voice in the affairs of south-western Lebennin.
Gîlfenn Thalion is the current Master of Minas Daldor. Gîlfenn has ruled since his father Maethor passed in 2081. As with most of the men in the Thalion line he died after suffering from dementia or lunacy. Gîlfenn is growing increasingly worried he will meet the same fate. Unbeknownst to him, he has already started spiralling, seeing himself as a Great Feudal Lord with a duty to rule the county with an iron fist. This has led to frequent rows with his son, Baran Thalion. No one is aware of the fact that Gîlfenn started going slowly insane after inheriting the fiefdom – and a particular ring that has been in the family for generations. The ring can be traced back to the first Thalion of Minas Daldor – and before that all the way to Númenor.
In the 1600s, Fuindil Thalion was squire to Royal Knight Aroquen Meldin, «The Mad». Meldin was a singular descendant of the Faithful Numenórean nobility, and as such of noble blood and bearing. He was known to be brilliant and witty, and his varied talents impressed the most powerful of his peers.
Unknown to those outside his small circle, Meldin was also quite insane. His delusions ran deep. Though he maintained a suitable facade, he believed himself to be an immortal demigod called , and he longed to expand his grip on the minds of the province’s citizenry. Meldin was incredibly wealthy, which drew followers to him who in turn fuelled his madness. When his Esquire, Fuindil Thalion, betrayed his lord, exposed his madness and had him deposed, he was granted succession of Meldin as reward. The Thalion family has since governed the province. Ironically, it was Fuindil who was the chief propagater in Meldin’s madness, acting as his «High Priest!» and humoring every foolish whim of his master. Indeed, Fuindil was true master of Minas Daldor even then, exercising lordly power in the area while pretending to “worship”
Meldin as The Dark Fire of Numenor. Fuindil’s position as a Knight and Captain of the Tower Guard enabled him to insulate his master from those who might discover his ruse until he was ready to turn his cloak and legally seize the power for himself.
Meldin believed himself to be most beneficent and generous with his servants – giving Fuindil large wages and bonuses for his “faithful worshippers” – but the wily captain pocketed most of the gold and silver, building up his own treasury. Much of the rest went to his troops, insuring their faith in the «High Priest of the Fire!»
Interestingly, there were many who secretly and honestly believed that the Lord of Minas Doldor was indeed a demi-god called The Dark Fire of Numenor. The demented Meldin often went about in a state of invisibility,and his deep voice and authoritative demeanor commanded belief in many who came in contact with him. There may be remnants of the Cult of the Dark Fire still abroad in County Daldor…
There were two good reasons for why Fuindil maintained the charade instead of just getting rid of Meldin. Only the Master of Minas Daldor had access to the treasure-vaults, through the use an ancient Númenórean heirloom – a ring making the bearer invisible, forged long ago by one of the Noldo smiths, presented to one of Meldin’s Faithful ancestors just before the Downfall. Secondly, only Meldin held the personal right to administer County Daldor. Fuindil may have been Minas Daldor’s representative on the Legate’s board, but Meldin remains the Crown’s appointed Master. It was only when Fuindil could gather enough evidence to show that he has been a faithful servant to the Realm, loyally carrying the burden of government from his crazed Master, and thus being seen as the proper replacement, that he would blow the whistle. Fuindil never found the secret treasury, nor a whole lot of Meldin’s other secrets, and in time they all faded from the Minas Daldor history, becoming entirely forgotten.
However, not long after being formally granted the fiefdom, with Meldin in prison awaiting excecution, Fuindil started having strange ideas himself. He did not realize it, but it was the ring he took off Meldin, the ring from Númenor. In fact, Meldin started becoming more and more lucid in his cell for each day, eventually leading to his pardon, though stripped of everything. Meldin would leave Lebennin, emigrating to Tharbad, where he would plot his revenge, a revenge that would never be fulfilled in his day.
Fuindil, though not versed in the magical arts, and not trusting anyone, still suspected some sort of influence, and he removed all jewlery from the remnants of Meldin’s treasure, and bricked over the shrine to the Dark Fire. The jewlery he had hidden away, but the ring had a disturbing way of making sure it was found every few generations. Fuindil made sure of warning his heirs, and the Thalion family madness would be a guarded secret. Some times the afflicted would even be quietly disposed of before scandal could be caused.
Maethor never had the warning from his father, and as such Gîlfinn never had it from him. As he is slowly becoming insane, he hears the whispers of the Dark Fire of Númenor in his head, and has become convinced that there are secrets in the keep he must know. Add to this the fuel of his chamberlain, a relatively new but highly recommended and very thorough fellow from Glanhir. Unbeknownst to Gîlfinn, the new chamberlain Dúlin is Meldin’s direct descendant, and has grown up with a thousand-year-history of hatred to the Thalions. Dúlin’s endgame is to encourage Gîlfinn’s madness, and drive him insane, thereby reversing the events of history.
The first step in Dúlin’s strategy was to remove Gîlfinn’s heir, Baran, from the equation. He worked long to encourage the strife that was already between them, helped by knowing the cycles of Gîlfinn’s madness, and when best to introduce Baran to him. Dúlin has made sure Gîlfinn has almost strangled the county, enforcing every and all laws a feudal lord can on the land, and it is almost bankrupt. He then convinced Baran that the best course of action would be to grant the land back to the farmers, thus allowing them to prosper, and eventually be a better source of revenue than leasing them the land and strangling them on it. Of course, the Great Lord Thalion was beyond outraged when this was proposed to him, and the following row left Baran disinherited. With him out of the picture, Dúlin only has a couple of years of manipulation ahead of him before revenge is complete…
|Layout of Minas Daldor’s Upper levels|
Northwest Tower. The level above chamber #6 is divided in half. The western portion contains a grain-mill. The eastern portion houses a cistern of fresh water which extends down through the level below. There is also a small laundry here, with two vats of steaming water.
Northeast Tower. The level above room #2 contains an armory and quarters for the Captain
of the Guard and his lieutenants.
Southeast Tower. The level above chamber #11 contains the apartments of the chamberlain of Minas Daldor and his family.
Southwest Tower. The second level of this three-story keep used to contain a small chapel dedicated to The Dark Fire of Numenor. This portion was bricked over, and no one even knows of its existence for over a thousand years, never realizing the slight irregularity in architecture.
The same level contains the once lavish apartments of the Thalion family. These chambers are directly above the Great Hall (#9).
Level three of tower 9 is a jumbled storage area, containing items of furniture, trunks of old clothing (for men, women and children of many sizes), a fair number of ornate weapons and armorial pieces, and 6terally hundreds of chests, boxes and barrels of a wide variety of sizes. These are heirlooms of both the Meldin and the Thalion family, going back thousands of years.
|Layout of Minas Daldor’s Main Level|
(1) Entry gate. Normal access to Minas Daldor is provided by a large staircase. It ascends
to a heavily fortified gate in the Northeast lbwer.
(2) Northeast tower (Gate Tower). The first level of the Northeast Tower houses the company of guards and thelr equipment. Privies (toilets) are located in the first and second levels of the tower. Each seats two, with partitions between and cesspits below (in the wall).
(3) Stables. The well-appointed stables are’ surrounded by a number of smaller buildings.
(4-5) Smith’s halls. The workshop and living quarters of the smith are tucked into the northern wall. The nearby stairway goes to the second level.
(6) Perishable stores. The first level of this tower contains barrels, chests, and jars for the general storage of grain, potable water, oil, etc.
(7-8) Carpenter’s halls. This complex contains the woodworking shop and the quarters of the carpenter and his family.
(9) Southwest tower (Keep Tower); The Southwest tower dominates the citadel. Its first floor contains the Great Hall. This once-splendid chamber has tapestry-covcred walls and glass windows, protecting the occupants from the harsh sea winds. It is used for dining, special gatherings, and in the past religious services for The Dark Fire of Numenor. The stairway in tower #9 goes up to levels two and three and the tower battlements. It also provides access to the first basement below. Privies (toilets) are located in the second level of the tower. Each seats three (with partitions between) and empties into a cesspit set below
in the wall.
(11) Pantry complex. Additional storage, and servant’s quarters.
(12) Cook’s quarters. The stairway near room #12 ascends to the seond level and descends to the first basement.
(13-14) Meat storage and smoking/curing room.
|Layout of Minas Daldor’s Basements|
( 15) Seaward Gate. The inset illustrates the seaside entryway to the castle and its third basement. This entrance is partially hidden from view, appearing to be a lengthy crack in the side of the cliff. A fresh-water stream cuts through the crack and feeds into the sea on the south side of the citadel.
(16) Stone docks. The confines of the cavern accommodate onl y two ships. A locked metal door (very hard, -20, to open) separates the dock from the Wheel Room.
(17) Wheel Room. T he subterranean stream turns the mill wheel. The Wheel Room’s clanking chains run off through narrow apertures in the walls. Behind the docks, a locked metal door (hard, -10, to open) leads to the stairway that joins #39 in t he first basement and the Southwest Tower (#9).
(18) Access corridor. This hall joins the Wheel Room to the library. The first basement landing (see #39) has a locked metal door (hard, -10, to open) that connects the stairway to the Wheel Room and the access corridor. Entry into the li brary on the other end of the corridor is barred by a locked wooden door (medium, -0, to open).
( 19) Library. The library is dominated by a collection of scrolls. These are grouped according to subject-matter, which ranges from poetry to prose – both real and legendary. The books cover the histories of Westernesse, practical engineering and such mundane subjects as farming and animal husbandry. No scrolls or books deal with magic in the practical sense.
(20) Long Hall. Across from the library’s outer entrance is a boarded-up alcove. Behind, unbeknownst even to the Thalion family, is a false metal door, apparently locked. By unlocking the false door, however (a very hard, -20, maneuver), one simply reaches a set of hidden shelves. The shelves contain two books and a ring case.
- The gold book contains a single, complete set of symbols for Light Law
spells (usable 1x at 10th Ivl).
- The black book contains a set of Lofty Bridge symbols (each usable 2x).
Both books must be opened and read by the caster.
- Inside the silver ring case is a cursed Ring of Cleaving. If one puts it on, the ring shrinks instantly, cutting off the wearer’s ring-finger and giving the victim a dose of Asp venom (lvl 5 attack; RR failure = permanent loss of use of adjoining arm).
(Trap X) By turning the key in the keyhole behind the hidden shelves once to the left, you can unlock another secret door obscured by shelving. W hen unlocked, the door (and attached shelving) may be pulled open easily. Behind the secret door is a 10′ × 10′ passageway. At point X, a large and highly concealed floor-section is counterbalanced to drop slightly when stepped upon. This trap is very hard (-20) to detect. It ejects a yellowish cloud through tiny vents in the ceiling, striking an area with a diameter of thirty feet. The cloud is harmless ocre and dust.
(21) Seating area. This lounge area contains a normal-sized chair with a four-foot high backrest, a two-foot high table, and a ten-inch candle in a brass holder. The dimensions are important, for from this point onward, the passage and identical furniture along the way increase in size by one inch every ten feet.
(22) Seating area. The chair at #22 is six feet high. Compared to the furnishings at #21 , the table is taller by a foot, and the candle is 15 inches high.
(23) Seating area. Contains an 8’ high chair, a 4’ table, and a 20" candle.
(24) Seating area. Contains a 10’ chair, a 5’ table, and a 25" candle.
(25) Seating area. Here sits a 12’ chair, (the seat is 4 112" high), a 6" table, and a 30" candle. Note that, not only the furnishings gradually increase in size, but the height and width of the smooth-walled passageway increases as well.
(26) Wooden door. At the end of the strange passageway is a massive wooden door, 28’ high and 1 4’ wide. Its three iron hinges are 4’ long by 2’ high, and its brass knob is a foot in diameter. The porous wooden planks of its construction measure 4’ in width. A brass lettering a foot high on the door, are these words: "BEWARE Of THE WRATH OF T HE DARK FIRE OF NUMENOR!
This door may be opened outward by turning the knob one revolution to the left, which is not a simple feat, as the knob is 12 feet above the floor. Behind the large door is a normal-sized, locked metal door (hard, -10, to open), which opens inward. In the corridor near the door is a crank which unlatches the large door, and a speaking-tube which deepens and amplifies the human voice.
(27) Master’s chambers. This suite contains the living Quarters of the Master of Minas Daldor. At the northwest corner of the room is a small secret door. It is the same size and ,has the same appearance as the stones of the surrounding walls and is extremely hard to detect. Due to hundreds of years of the building settling and filling in the cracks, the difficulty of locating it today is -70. It is virtually invisible. The door measures 30″ × 24″. Beyond it is a passageway of the same dimensions. The passage leads to the anteroom (#28), where it enters (hidden) behind a drape. Another small passage and secret door leads to room #29, wherein another third of Meldin’s treasure is kept.
(29) Treasure chamber.
(28,30) Anteroom and Inner passage.
(31) Circular metal chamber. This complex (detailed in the upper left of the illustration) is centered around the circular metal chamber with a single entrance/exit door (opening outward). Three other entries lie hidden behind the metal walls and can be reached only when the walls and door rotate to align with their position. This steelsided chamber is twelve feet in diameter and six feet in height.
ROTATING ROOM MECHANISM: The single steel-faced door is set flush into the wall and has no lock. It opens with a push or a pull. The walls of the room, however, rotate, meaning that the door aperture can rotate in or out of line with any one of the four entryways. If the door opening is aligned with a solid wall, it closes the door and prevents access to or from the room. The wall control mechanism is Absurd (-50) to detect. It consists of a metal pin or lever that peeks out of the floor on the west side of the chamber. One step on the level rotates the entire room counter-clockwise, thereby shutting its door. Only Meldin knew how to operote the sensitive control properly, and he’s been dead for 1500 years; anyone else will spin the chamber randomly: roll – 01-10 = north entry; 11-20 = west entry; 21·30 = south entry; 31-40 = east entry; 41-100 = door aligned with solid wall, preventing entry or exit. That is provided the mechanism doesn’t jam – it hasn’t been used for at least a thousand years or more! There is a 60% chance the mechanism jams every time it is used, and has to be reset by a competent engineer (extremely hard -30)
(32) Circular room and pit trap. The smaller, adjoining circular rooms (#32 and #33) in each of the two wings (north and’south) off room #31 are six feet in diameter and six feet high. The floors of these rooms consist of four triangular metal plates, hinged on the sides opposite the center of each room. Room #32, with its hinged metal floor, is a pit trap. The floor panels are counterbalanced to drop with a weight of 100 pounds
or more. The drop is thirty feet to a spiked floor. Victims receive a + 30 Fall/Crush attack followed by one to five + 25 Mounted Lance attacks. It is an extremely hard (-30) leaping maneuver to avoid this trap when triggered, but there is a 50% chance that the trapdoors are rusted shut.
(33) Circular room and piston trap. Room #33 is built like #32. It also contains a moving metal floor, although these floor panels slide down and upward on tracks. When a weight of 150 or more pounds is placed on the floor, the floor recedes and strikes a counterweight trigger. The trigger dislodges a six foot diameter piston. The torsiondriven piston drives upward from below, pushing up the room’s four triangular metal floor plates until they come within two inches of the ceiling. People trapped in the room receive one to two + 200 Fall/Crush attack(s). The trap falls back downward immediately after reaching the apogee, but it cannot reset without a technician’s skilled hand. When triggered, it is a very hard (-20) leaping maneuver to avoid this trap. There is a 70% chance that this trap has rusted.
(34 and 36) Circular rooms. Like #s 32 and 33, rooms #34 and #36 have metal floors. Although the floor plates are slightly movable (they clank when stepped on), they are structurally secure and the rooms are harmless.
(35) Accessway to above ground levels. This hallway leads to stairway #38, and the first
and second levels.
(37) Steel door. Very hard (-20) to unlock.
A simple band of strange green alloy, it is invisible when worn, like the rings of the Nazgûl. It was one of Annatar’s early experiments of designing Rings of Power, which he had created by Celebrimbor’s apprentice Himírdan. Annatar seemed uninterested in the lesser ring, and Himírdan brought the ring to Númenor, where he presented it as a gift to his particular friend, an ancestor of Meldin. Himírdan as an Elf was unaware of the mind-altering powers of the ring (they did not affect him), and it was not until several hundreds of years that the curse first seemed to crop up, for unknown reasons. The ring is a lesser variant of the Rings of Power, but of the same nature; designed to enthrall the wearer to Dark Powers. Not exactly as Annatar had intended, Meldin’s Ring makes the wearer believe that he is the Dark Power, gradually wearing down his mental defenses. Although the wearer can recover slightly if separated from the ring (there is no addiction as with the One Ring), he will never be fully restored, which explains Meldin’s centuries-spanning revenge plot.
Powers: x4 PP spell multiplier. +30 to wearer’s DB. Wearer is afflicted similarly as to RM Mind Control Suggestion . The longer the ring is worn, the harder it becomes to resist the effect. In addition, the ring grants the wearer RM Invisible Ways Invisibility as often as every round (the wearer is free to cast other spells if he wishes).
Source: Sea-Lords of Gondor Maps found there.