Who is Commander Errulf?

Well, here is yet another blog post on an aspect of the Sands of Menechtarun.  This time I would like to focus on one of the rare encounters you might stumble upon, Commander Errulf.  Commander Errulf is a firebrand gnoll who can be located in small camp just above the quest entrance to Maraud the Mines.  He shares time at this location with Lieutenant Ayurro (who you will see much more often).  Commander Errulf is well known because his chest has the potential to drop the boots, Firestorm Greaves.

So besides being a powerful and vicious gnoll in the Firebrand Camp of the desert, who is Commander Errulf?  We know practically nothing about this particular gnoll and we can’t really determine a whole lot of his backstory from the desert itself or from Maraud the Mines or Chains of Flames, the two quests that feature the Firebrand Gnolls.  From his rank, I’m guessing that Commander Errulf is the leading officer for the Firebrand Gnoll forces that guards the perimeter of their territory and the entrance to the Burning Mountain.  I’m also assuming that because he tends to share time at his post with Lieutenant Ayurro, that he likes to make rounds around the perimeter to make sure his forces are staying vigilant.

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However, how did Errulf obtain his rank?  It is known that gnolls are generally quite aggressive and crave the hunt and they routinely fight each other to establish dominance.  It is also well known that gnolls are very loyal to their family and to those they have considered to be friends, even with the constant in-fighting for dominance.  Therefore it is possible that Errulf raised to his position by simply being the strongest in his clan or pack within the Firebrand Gnolls.  I’m not entirely sure how structured their military institution is, but I can see gnolls having battles to determine rank, especially ranks for higher levels within the military structure.  I also wouldn’t be surprised that being a member of a high ranking family also influences a standing an individual gnoll would received within their clan.

Therefore, it makes me wonder if Commander Errulf is related to General Muurajha or possibly General Hruvayah.  I don’t think this relationship would be paternal because gnolls don’t typically have a long life span (30 years or so).  However, it is possible that Errulf is a sibling of these higher ranking gnolls or even possibly a cousin.

What is clear is that Commander Errulf seems to hold an important position, even being responsible for guarding some high profile pieces of loot.

So, what do you think is Commander Errulf’s background.  Thanks for reading and happy hunting in the desert!!

The Origins of the Burning City

The Sands of Menechtarun is one of the more notable ares in Xen’drik and in DDO.  In order to survive in this harsh environment, you essentially have to become quite ruthless, creative, and persistent.  One of the region’s most prominent landmarks is the Burning Mountain.  The Firebrand gnolls make the Burning Mountain their home and they have devised quite a creative and persistent community in that hostile environment.  The also make use of slaves quite ruthlessly to expand their community and their social well being.

The Firebrand gnolls have made their base in the extraordinary village known as the Burning City.  The Burning City is located within the heart of the Burning Mountain.  It is a pretty spectacular village, to be quite honest.  It is a mutli-tiered city with numerous levels built inside the impressive volcano.  It is constructed into a variety of tunnels and pathways that are linked by bridges and ladders.  Its layout provides a number of excellent military and defensive positions allowing the Firebrand gnolls the ability to rain down fiery arrows of death into any invaders foolish enough to invade the village.  Although I haven’t verified this, I’m assuming there also other tunnels that lead from the Burning City to the Firebrand mines where the gnolls send their slaves to mine the jewels and ores that are so plentiful in these mountains.

Hamllin gazing off towards the Burning City in the Menechtarun Desert.

All of this makes me wonder, what exactly is the origin of the Burning City.  The Firebrand gnolls are already a unique population of gnolls as the majority of gnolls are known to be found in smaller packs or are completely nomadic.  Forming large villages, such as those of the Firebrand and Windlashers is quite unique.  It is also known that most gnoll cultures survive by scavenging from other races and doing as little as they can when it comes to actual physical labor.  So if this is case, who actually constructed the Burning City?

Being located in the heart of the Burning Mountain, the Burning City seems to have the trappings of being created by a clan of dwarves.  The stonework and ingenuity with its design is quite typical for such a culture.  I can easily a strong mountain dwarf clan turning the Burning Mountain into a valuable commodity.  I can also see how making an alliance with Lailat, better known as the Demon Queen, could have given the Firebrand gnolls the ability to take control and over through such a population of dwarves.  I just don’t see it likely that a small population of gnolls could have built the Burning City, at least not with out some help.  I believe their alliance with Lailat has allowed them to expand their own culture and family ties to encompass a village and to become proficient in some of the crafts and trades of the other races.  Just looking at some of their red armors and powerful and wicked falchions can attest to that.  I can also see how Rashad the Vizier can be acting as an emissary between Lailat and the Firebrand gnolls.

The Burning City is definitely a dangerous but yet interesting location.  Its origination is in question and is uknown, currently, but it does lead to some interesting questions.  What does everybody else think about this topic?  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting in the Burning Mountain!!

Monsters I Would Like to See in the next Manual of the Monster Manual

With each upcoming update, I look to see if there is any news for a new volume in the Monster Manual.  However, we haven’t seen any additions to this fun feature of the game in a number of updates now.  It was explained awhile back that it takes a lot of time to get new volumes of the Monster Manual in place, especially when it comes to developing the art for the monster illustrations.  The developers then mentioned that they want to keep the Monster Manual a high quality system and don’t want to rush out volumes with shoddy artwork.  Not to mention the developers have been dogged down with a number of other changes and content packs.

However, that doesn’t keep one like me from wondering and hoping which monsters will be in the next volume of the Monster Manual if/when it comes out.  There are a number of monsters/enemies I would really like to see added to the Monster Manual.  In some sense, I’m surprised that we don’t have some of these already.

The first monster I would like to see is one in the undead chapter, wights.  We encounter wights from the time we are in the low levels all the way through the higher levels.  Wights are prevalent all over the place, from appearances in Shan-to-Kor, to the Catacombs, to House Jorasco, to Sorrowdusk Isle, and the Necropolis.  We just encounter so many of these bad guys that I think it is unfortunate we don’t have them in the Monster Manual.  Even are first enemy personality, Jacoby Drexelhand, comes back to fight us as a wight.  Time to add these baddies to the Monster Manual :).

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Wights would be a nice addition to the Monster Manual.

The next monster, I would have to say would be ogres.  I’m actually surprised to see trolls in the Monster Manual as opposed to ogres.  Ogres are just as prevalent as trolls, if not more so.  We come ogres in the Harbor, Market, House Quests, Sorrowdusk Isle, Gianthold, Restless Isles, and Vale of Twilight.  Hopefully the next volume will have these fellas in it.

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Seeing some ogres in the Monster Manual would be a nice addition!!

Looking at the list of constructs, I was surprised to see that flesh golems were included in one of volumes but we didn’t get the iron defenders.  Iron defenders are another set of monsters we come across early in the game and then through the rest of our questing days well into the middle levels at least.  Iron defenders do seem to fall off later on in the game, however they are more common to run into than flesh golems.

Moving off to some of the monsters in the Sands of Menectharun, I would really like to see included the gnolls.  Starting with Sands of Menechtarun, we encounter a large group of gnolls from levels 12 to epic levels (going into the Stormhorns).  The gnolls would be a good compliment to the other monstrous humanoids.

Going back to some of the undead entries, it would be nice to see specters added.  We do have wraiths, but we don’t have specters.  We encounter specters at about the same time we encounter wraiths.  It only make sense that these guys also be present in the Monster Manual.

And perhaps the last thing I would like to see in the monster manual would be dogs/hyenas.  Another set of enemies that we encounter pretty widely throughout our levels.  These guys would be a good compliment to the wolves in the monster manual.

Those are just some of the enemies I would really like to see in the monster manual.  I can easily come up with more as I’m sure many of you can as well.  Hopefully we will see new editions of the Monster Manual within the next year.  One can always hope :).  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!!

Trying to Determine a Link Between Various Clans or Groups of Monsters Across Storylines-Part 10 Gnolls

Well, it has been quite some time since I took some time to look at the various clans and groups of a set of monsters and to try to determine a link between them and across their storylines.  So far I have looked at the following:

1).  The Sahaugin
2).  Kobolds
3).  Ogres
4).  Trolls
5).  Bugbears
6).  Hobgoblins
7).  Troglodytes
8).  Orcs
9).  Drow

Today, I wanted to take a second to glance at the various clans of gnolls.  For this rundown, I’m only going to look at the gnolls in the Eberron setting of DDO.  This is mainly because I haven’t really run into the Stormhorns so I really don’t know much at all about the gnolls in that mountainous region of the Forgotten Realms.  So with that said, we have  the following clans of gnolls:

1).  Windlasher Gnolls-Sands of Menechtarun, Ruins of Gianthold, Vale of Twilight
2).  Firebrand Gnolls-Sands of Menechtarun
3).  Mountain Gnolls-Mount Reysalon
4).  Droaam Gnolls
5).  Friendish Gnolls

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Erdrique making his presence known to the Windlashers in the desert.

So basically we have five different clans of gnolls that we typically encounter throughout our adventures in Eberron.  In general, the first time our characters will encounter gnolls will be in the Sands of Menechtarun.  Within the Sands of Menechtarun, we typically encounter three different clans of gnolls: Windlasher, Firebrand, and Fiendish gnolls.  The Windlasher gnolls occupy a large chunk of the desert at the entrance to the Sands of Menectharun.  They also have established some type of relationship with the lich of the Wizard King, Raiy-um.  As a result, you will encounter these gnolls and their hyena pets in the Chamber of Raiy-um, Chamber of Kourush, and the Chamber of Rhamet.  It also appears that the Windlashers do not associate themselves with their gnoll counterparts, the Firebrands.  They tend to live in thatched huts and they can summon forth electric spells and air elementals.  What is really interesting about the Windlashers is that they have branches out in the Ruins of Gianthold and in the Vale of Twilight.  In fact, the Windlasher gnolls in the Vale of Twilight are the strongest of the clans (but of course the Vale of the Twilight is also the higest level as well).  This makes me think that the home base of the Windlashers is the Vale of Twilight and that they have expanded to Sands of Menectharun and the Ruins of Gianthold.  I can see this being the case, with the alignment of the two planes (Lamannia and Shavarath) allowing the forces of devils to come and invade their area.  It makes sense that the gnolls would want to retreat to other areas and establish alliances with other stronger forces (the Wiz-King for example who is also intimately linked to the demon queen..and we know demons are the arch enemies of devils).  The Windlasher gnolls in the Gianthold or also probably trying to establish a foothold to protect their clan, aligning themselves with the Stormfist Camp, again securing the alliance of other powerful entities to deal with the devils if it came to that.

So then what about the Firebrand gnolls who are also located in the Sands of Menechtarun?  These gnolls have intimately aligned themselves with the Demon Queen.  They typically inhabit the surrounding areas the Burning City, in the mountainous regions of the desert.  They are only located in this region and they are powerful in fire based spells and in summoning fire elementals and mephits.  They seem to be segregated from the other clans of gnolls and I can’t really associated them with the other clans in the game as of yet.

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Erd fighting some Firebrand gnolls in the desert.

The next clan of gnolls are the powerful mountain gnolls in Mount Reysalon.  These gnolls have armor and weapons that look very similar to the Firebrand gnolls but they are much more powerful.  They are only located in this area.  It is possible that these gnolls could be an offshoot of the Firebrands, but I don’t think so.  These gnolls are just too strong and they are too independent to be associated with their weaker kin in the desert.

The next group of gnolls are those that serve the Daughters of Sora Kell.  These gnolls also dress like those of the Firebrand, but these gnolls are aligned with the great Hags of the monstrous nation of Droaam.  They are pretty powerful and are primarily support/spell casting enemies in the Droaam army.  These gnolls are not associated with those from the Sands of Menectharun or from Mount Reysalon.  Again, we have another source of independence going on :).

The last group of gnolls are the fiendish gnolls.  These gnolls are located in a few places, including the Sands of Menechtarun and the Vale of the Twilight.  Although these gnolls have been enhanced with fiendish blood, the ones in the desert do associate themselves with the rest of the Firebrand gnolls while those in the Vale of Twilight seem to be more independent or to being forced to server the devil army.

There is another source of gnolls that are found in the Shroud that heal Arraetrikos.  These gnolls appear as Windlasher spellcasting gnolls and so I’m assuming that these gnolls are those who decided to leave the Windlasher clan to join up with Arraetrikos and his devil army in hopes of getting some of that glory.  However, I am unsure of their true allegiances.

So the gnolls the in game are interesting to try to tease and link to together.  The Windlashers are extremely interesting because they tend to span across quite bit of Xen’drik.  Watching this clan and how they spreadout in the future will be interesting.

Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting out in the wilds of Eberron!!

Random Thoughts on the Enemies of the Desert Caravan

One of my more favorite set of quests is Demon Sands, also known as the Sands of Menechtarun.  The Demon Sands was one of the earlier content packs released for DDO and when it was first released (Module 3), the only way to get to Zawabi’s Refuge (the central hub for the quest pack) you had to complete the quest, the Desert Caravan.  The Desert Caravan is bestowed by Iosynne d’Phiarlan in the House P Ward of Stormreach.  The premise of the quest is simple, protect the caravan from the denizens of the Menechtarun desert.

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Erdrique in the midst of protecting the Caravan.

The Desert Caravan was unique because it gave us the first glimpse about what we would encounter within the wild landscape of the Menechtarun Desert.  Later, the requirement to complete the Desert Caravan to reach Zawabi’s Refuge was changed and a NPC was added that would offer you transport to the Zawabi’s Refuge via airship. 

The other day I was taking Erdrique through the Desert Caravan as he was working on his level 11 quests and took notice of the mobs he was engaging with while protecting the caravan.  The primary thing I noticed, was that the we encountered only three types of mobs: Drow Scorpions, regular scorpions, and hyenas.  I’m not counting the archers in this analysis because they don’t come within melee range and are really often overlooked.  I thought this array of mobs was strange.  If you known anything at all about the Menechtarun Desert and it’s landscape you know that it has three primary zones: undead, gnolls, and drow (with their scorrow scorpions).  There is very little “mingling” of within these zones.  The attack on the caravan is primarily due to scorrow forces of the drow but what is interesting about this is that we actually see no drow at all, only their aberration drow scorpions.  This is different to the rest of the Desert itself when we encounter much more regular drow than we do drow scorpions.  Why aren’t they partaking in this raid?  Also, another confusing point in this situation are the hyenas.  The hyenas are part of the gnoll bands and are not associated with the scorrow at all.  So how did so many hyenas become part of this raiding party? 

I’m not sure I can determine any “realistic” logic here.  My initial thinking is that route of the caravan took it near or past the quest entrance of “Raid the Vulkoorim“.  Raid the Vulkoorim has nothing in it but scorpions on drow scorpions, suggesting that it was the source of the raiders.  However, where do the hyena’s come in.  From what I can tell, the gnolls and hyenas pretty much hate the Vulkoorim drow and they wouldn’t be working with each other at all.  In fact, a band of Windlasher gnolls is actually conducting it’s own raid in the quest Raid the Vulkoorim.  So are the hyenas somehow captives of the drow being forced to augment their forces?  Are they being charmed somehow?  I’m not sure on that point.

In any case, I really do enjoy the Desert quests and just wanted to pass those thoughts along.  Thanks for reading, and happy explorations to all!!