The Thunder Peaks and the Storm Horns
Design: Eric Haddock
Editing: Jean Rabe
Interior Art: Daniel Frazier, Doug Chaffee, Terry Dykstra
Cartography: Dennis Kauth
Typography: Nancy J. Kerkstra
Production: Paul Hanchette
Greetings! You have opened a book that has taken many years to write, for it is the compilation of notes and sketches I made during my many explorations into the Thunder Peaks and Storm Horns. In those mountain ranges I investigated the flora, fauna, monsters, and general wildlife. And I put quill to paper to record my observations for posterity.
During one sojourn I met Elminster, who happened to be attracted to the same patch of rare wildflowers that I was studying. I discovered that, like me, he came to the mountains to appreciate the plants and to sketch - though he was there more for artistic pursuits.
My concentration was upon the science of the wildflowers, their role among other plants and how they affected the insect life. Elminster frowned slightly when I told him my reason for sketching, and he asked whether I ever paid attention to the beauty in the things I drew. It was then I realized what a true contribution my drawings could make, and that I should take note of when I beheld such pretty sights as the flowers we both prized. I was intrigued by Elminster's perspective and decided to speak with him further.
Naturally our talk ran through flowers, sketches, and our respective travels over the land seeking rare things to behold and record. When I told him of my exploits in the Thunder Peaks, he perked up and said he was compiling a work that sought to detail the life around him. No one had yet produced anything related to the peaks or the Storm Horns, so he asked if I would submit my notes to him, which I have done, and which you are reading.
Before you read further, allow me to introduce myself and detail my expertise, so the things I say hereon will be taken at their proper value.
I am Nibulus Loral, a sage who has made it his life's work to study the natural things of this world and relate that knowledge to others. I have used my skills as a spellcaster to aid me in my studies and to facilitate my traveling over the two mountain ranges described in this book.
I am a wizard by trade. I spent many years doing the things that wizards are best known for: casting spells, enchanting weapons, and repelling hoards of orcs and slavering beasts. But, as I aged, I gained a greater appreciation for the simpler things in our lives, those things which are most often overlooked.
I began to take note of the variety and beauty of the blooms that grew around my home, and I took up sketching so I could enjoy the images of the flowers year-round.
This led me to the notion of traveling to other parts of Cormyr to see more flowers and plants, and to sketch them as well. This, in turn, took me to study greater subjects, living creatures, and it eventually lead to the creation of this work you have now.
Hopefully this book will reveal new things about creatures with which you are familiar. Also, these writings are sure to tell you things about creatures you never have seen before, or have only heard about in whispered legends. This book might dispel those legends.or build upon them. Either way, I trust it will be of use in your endeavors as you walk through the majestic towers of the Storm Horns and Thunder Peaks.
The Mountain Ranges
Because they are the geographic borders of the Kingdom of Cormyr, the Storm Horns and Thunder Peaks mountain ranges have had significant impact on that proud country.
The Thunder Peaks form the eastern border of Cormyr. Even for mountains they're high and are difficult for any creature to traverse. One passage cuts through the Thunder Peaks, named appropriately enough. Thunder Gap. The Gap is not a pleasant walk. Raiders concentrate on it as it's the only pass, monsters live all around it, and the harsh weather makes sure no one has an easy time in the mountains.
Those who have seen the Storm Horns up close quickly realize why the range is spoken of in gritty terms and with cursed breath. It coils around half of Cormyr, preventing the kingdom from expanding farther north or west. The Storm Horns are jagged, rough, and utterly inhospitable to any but the most hearty creature.
The Mountain Peaks
The Storm Horns and Thunder Peaks are unusual in their appearance and form. They are more jagged and steep than most other ranges. With their steepness, the mountains are unusually difficult to traverse. There are but a few passes through either range and only one road in the entire Storm Horns, the High Road.
A great deal of loose rock of all sizes particularly hampers travel. The rocks, like the peaks, are jagged and sharp. They are notoriously difficult to break, putting anyone who mines in the ranges to the limits of their endurance.
In each range you will find the grandest of peaks which hold secrets known only to dragons and titans, and you will find small rocky hills, insignificant even to a slug.
The grandest peaks tower above the other mountains in the range. They reach above the clouds and naturally attract the attention of the largest, grandest creatures. Because of this, the tallest peaks have seen the greatest amount of battle by the most powerful beings.
These peaks also inspire song and poetry that have formed styles all their own. Verse about mountains takes on an especially distinctive flavor. Bards singing about them can't help vocalizing in a slightly deeper timbre, reflecting the majesty of the spires.
This beauty can only be seen from a distance. Few passes wind through the ranges. Trekking through them is an arduous task to say the least. Aside from the obvious difficulty terrain represents, the ranges are filled with tribes of orcs and all manner of powerful monsters that welcome visitors.
Not well known are stories of cities hidden within the peaks, secreted away by distance. Of the ones I am familiar with, the only one which recurs is a story of a silver city that is at the base of a tall mountain. All of the stories say the city is between Tilverton and Thunder Gap. The founders of the city are said to be monks who are seeking an inner peace purported to grant them the ability to walk to other planes. This method of travel surpasses the distances allowed by magical spells. Many of these lesser known tales center around the dimension-crossing abilities of the monks.
The Atmospheric Storms
Both mountain ranges share a common characteristic that birthed their respective names.
Throughout the year, regardless of season, they are plagued by the most awful thunderstorms anyone could have the misfortune of being caught in.
The storms are sudden and forceful. They blow in from the horizon with no warning, descending upon weary travelers who struggle through the few passes that have been established.
Frequently, the weather in the ranges will be tolerable, but some wind always blows - from a slight breeze to a strong gust - testing the strength of caravans' ropes that hold the wares to the wagons. If a storm is coming, it might be seen along the distant horizon - if an observer can manage to get a clear, unobstructed view. Even so, such clouds may appear as harmless, fluffy puffs.
The next morning, however, an overcast sky is likely to greet the traveler, and there is no doubt as to what will shortly follow. Within half a day, the storms will arrive in force.
The overcast sky brings with it chilling, forceful winds that test the endurance of the traveler. Gusts sting the skin and threaten to blow away protective clothes. The chill is sometimes frigid enough to cause death for those without protective furs and hides. Uncovered skin becomes numb after only a few minutes of exposure.
During the course of a few hours, the storms make their entrance. Suddenly, the sky appears to fall. The clouds which have blanketed the heavens in an icy grip descend, bringing themselves to the level of the peaks or lower. Massive forces push and squeeze them down to the mountains and upon whomever is unfortunate enough to be caught on the towering spires of rock.
The wind increases in severity in both force and chill. At this stage the frosty blasts of storms are cold enough to freeze standing water. At the highest altitudes, even water secured away in skins will freeze, and the wind here carries a bite only those with magical protection or the finest survival clothes can withstand.
The winds herald violence. Echoing between the peaks, thunder dances along the ground. Standing within the peaks prevents anyone from telling where the storm or thunder is going to or coming from. There's only a constant echoing boom of thunder, threatening to deafen all who are foolish enough not to cover their ears and take shelter deep inside a cave. So noisy are the peals of thunder that vibrations are felt.painfully so.within one's chest and ribs. Teeth rattle at the sound of the storm's footsteps upon the peaks.
This episode of thunder is short compared to the actual tempest of the storm. Without warning, lightning strikes the tops and sides of the mountains. Terrific bolts stab from the rolling clouds and into the black rock of the peaks. Harsh burn marks are left, and if the lightning should strike a wagon or person, nothing remains. In the open, no measures will prevent one from getting struck by the lightning. Only sheltering deep within a cave or crevice will do. Even those with magical protection or who claimed to have an affinity for the elements have been reduced to ashes and blown away.
For a firsthand account of a storm, the following is offered from Lars Kun, a merchant:
"We became lost from the High Road. We were traveling during a full moon, trying to reach the Bridge of Fallen Men as quickly as we could, as our mission was urgent.
"The moon was guiding us well, and we were confident our goal would be reached soon. We had thoughts of camping at dawn. Then clouds moved over the sky and hid the moon completely from us. Suddenly we were in pitch blackness.
"Then we felt the winds. They picked up and blew out four of our six lanterns. I admit we should have kept calm, but our trepidation got the better of us, and we walked off the High Road and into unmapped terrain, to where we thought a cave might be.
"The winds became suddenly colder, and we decided to make our camp where we stood, rather than stumble in the dark hoping to find a crevice or overhang. We had to make a camp soon or be caught in the storm without any shelter.
"We anchored our tents with rocks, and we arranged ourselves as best we could against the direction of the wind.
"We grouped ourselves in pairs and huddled together for warmth. The winds clawed at our tents, trying to find a way to get to us. It was as if invisible harpies were ripping at the canvas, clamoring to find some morsel inside. The cold knifed through the fabric of our tents as if it were made of sheer silk. I felt as though I was standing naked in an icy lake at winter. My companion and I held each other tightly against the cold and wind. Our tents started flapping so loudly we could barely hear shouts from other tents, shouts that were frantic prayers.
"The cold worsened and we heard thunder. It seemed to come from the east for a few seconds, but then the sound was quickly all around us. Horrific booms assaulted our ears. We lost contact with the people in the other tents, and I had trouble hearing my companion.
"Real fear of whether we'd be able to survive this storm filled me. The tent was dark, the lantern having been knocked over and the frame blown out. The thunder and wind accosted us from all sides and made our tent walls into drum skins. The storm hammered us and slammed against our ears mercilessly.
"A blinding flash of light and a brutal crack that made the mountain sound as if it were breaking in two flooded us with terror. We foolishly opened our tent flap to see what had happened and saw that one of our tents had disappeared. A black patch of ash washing down the mountain was the only evidence of my companions' fate. All around us constant flashes of lightning brought light to the dark. It was a light brighter and more constant than the full moon that had guided us earlier. Brilliant flashes all around us with cracks of thunder both loud and distant assailed us. One of our number went screaming into the rocks in a fit of terror. His fate is unknown.
"The rains came shortly after that, and my companion and I held onto each other for fear of being swept away in a flood. We did not know what to expect next from this terrible storm. With our hearts racing and bodies trembling, we managed to endure the storm without becoming deaf or going insane from fear.
"The storm lasted until morning. We saw the lightning flashes go away, then the thunder, and finally the black skies. The horror was replaced by the golden embrace of the sun.
"We lost much equipment and several members of our party. The most important lesson I learned from the incident was that sheltering in a cave is perhaps the only way to avoid the wrath of the cursed mountain range."
Weather in the Storm Horns
The Storm Horns experience most of their rainfall on their eastern side. This is also where most of the plant growth is as well. Winds almost always blow from east to west across the Storm Horns.
The temperature of the mountains is cool most of the year, especially at higher altitudes. However, in the summer the area near the Farsea Marshes can be extremely hot and humid, and the heat can test the endurance of all who pass through that locale. Snow falls in the winter over much of the Storm Horns, but only at the higher peaks.
The summer is usually a season where no new snow falls even at higher elevations, but blowing snow makes its way down the mountains during the late fall.
Weather in the Thunder Peaks
Two weather patterns seem to influence this mountain range. Both sides of the range see rain, as well as a current of air blowing onto the range from the east and west, though the wind from the west is noticeably weaker than the eastern wind. Because of this, a great variety of plants grow on both sides of the range.
The winds coming to the Thunder Peaks are usually constant throughout the year, making for a much cooler year-round temperature than that in the Storm Horns. Winters, especially in the northern regions of the Thunder Peaks, can be especially cold and brutal. While snow may not fall all through the winter, enough of it blows down from the higher peaks to cause serious hazards for those passing through Thunder Gap and Tilver's Gap.
The Thunder Peaks also have a greater annual rainfall than the Storm Horns. This abundance of water forms the source of three major rivers leading out of the range: the Immerflow, the Semberflow, and the Arkhen.
The Thunder Peaks are also subject to a greater degree of weathering than other mountains in Cormyr. This has resulted in some spectacular formations and views, especially, of course, during sunset. Find a concentration of such wonders in the southern area of the Thunder Peaks near Hooknose Crag and the High Dale. The sights beheld there have inspired many bards to praise that beauty in song.
Special Rules for Storms and Weather
General Weather Conditions
The weather in each mountain range can be very unpredictable. A day can start warm and sunny in the morning and be below freezing by afternoon. Roll on the tables below every six hours of game time to determine what the weather conditions are like on either mountain range.
|1||Calm, 0 mph|
|2||Light breeze, 5-10 mph|
|3||Gusting, 0-50 mph|
|4||Windy, 30-40 mph|
|5||Strong wind, 50+ mph|
Note: these speeds and effects differ from those given on page 95, DMG 3.5. The descriptions below have been adjusted to version 3.5
*Gusting Winds: Gusting winds are characterized by periods of calm breezes lasting 1d10 minutes followed by short bursts of strong wind lasting 1d10 minutes.
Windy: (Severe) Windy conditions make it difficult to travel through the mountains. Tiny characters have a chance of being blown away (DC 10); small characters are knocked down. Medium characters have their movement reduced to 0.
Strong Winds: (Windstorm force) Small and smaller characters have a chance of being blown away (DC 18); medium characters are knocked down, large or huge characters have their movement reduced to 0.
* See storm section to determine the effects of a storm.
Generally the temperatures in the mountains decrease with altitude. The higher up one goes, the colder it gets. During a storm the temperature can change dramatically due to massive air currents sweeping in rapidly. The Storm Temperature Conditions table shows how much the temperature changes during a storm. The DM will need to determine a starting temperature based on the season of the year and the altitude of the characters when a storm hits. Temperatures tend to take a slightly more drastic change toward cold than toward hot because of the effects of altitude. Obviously, when temperatures drop below 32° F, precipitation during a storm changes to sleet, freezing rain, or snow.
Storm Temperature Conditions
|1||Hotter, +2d10° F|
|2||Warmer, +1d10° F|
|3-4||Same, up or down 1d4° F|
|4||Cooler, -1d10+3° F|
|6||Cold, -2d20+3° F|
When a storm is indicated by the Wind Conditions table, the PCs are in for severe weather, with all of the usual characteristics (rolling thunder, heavy rain, etc.). The severity of that storm is indicated by the number of times lightning strikes near the party. To determine this, roll 1d10. The result indicates how many lightning bolts have a chance of striking the PCs within the next 15 minutes (roll once for every 15 minutes of game time for the duration of the storm). For each lightning bolt that has a chance to hit, roll an attack against a random PC (Ref save 2). Lightning bolts inflict 1d10 x 1d8 (1-80) points of damage. Note that certain materials make a PC more susceptible to lightning attacks. Characters in metal armor, especially plate mail, and those carrying pole arms are particularly threatened (Ref save 11). Against such characters, the lightning is considered to cause an additional 1d8 points of damage.
With the storms come a great amount of rain. The rains are always heavy and obscure vision, restricting it to 10 feet.
Storms last from 15 minutes to one hour. Roll a four-sided die to determine how many 15- minute blocks of time the storm lasts.
- Part One: The Mountain Ranges
- Part Two: Common Life in the Mountains
- Part Three: Monsters of the Peaks
- Part Four: Rumors