Once a generation, they say, a strange comet appears in the sky overhead and the gates of Firestorm Peak swing open. Twenty-seven years ago, your father lead his band of adventurers into the mysterious mountain, never to return. Now the Dragon's Tear once more flickers in the sky, and the glass gates on the mountainside beckon. Will you pass through to discover the secrets that await beyond the portal none has ever dared and returned?
The Gates of Firestorm Peak is the first adventure designed especially for use with the new rules presented in the three Player's Option books: Combat & Tactics, Skills & Powers, and Spells & Magic. While it can also be played using just the AD&D game core rules (the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide), this adventure offers a perfect opportunity to experience all the potential of the optional rules. One of the highlights of this package is the first Player's Option player character record sheet.
To meet the challenges of Firestorm Peak and escape with their lives, heroic adventurers must battle dark dwarves in their underground city, explore the abandoned caverns of the Elder Elves, and deal with weird alien entities from Beyond. Their goal is to stop the Master of the Twisted Caverns and his dark minions from completing his sinister plot before it's too late. . . if they can
Included in this product are a 96-page adventure book detailing the dungeon that lies beneath Firestorm Peak, four full-color maps showing all the important locations in the complex, and a sheet of 56 counters for use with the tactical maps in major combats.
For 4 to 6 characters of levels 5 to 8.
The Gates of Firestorm Peak (1996), by Bruce Cordell, is an adventure that can be used in any campaign world. It was released in October 1996.
Origins. When Bruce Cordell was given the assignment for The Gates of Firestorm Peak, it had two requirements. First, it had to highlight the rules of the Player's Options books. Second, it had to be called "Gates of Firestorm Peak". The word "gates" got Cordell thinking, and he eventually settled on a dimensional gate that went "outside time and space". From there, the rest of the adventure came together.
Continuing the Generic Adventures. Though TSR focused heavily on campaign settings in the AD&D 2e era, in 1992 they began to publish "general" adventure too; HHQ1: "Fighter's Challenge" (1992) and GA1: "The Murky Deep" (1993) led off their first two series of generic adventures. By 1996, TSR wasn't using module codes any more, but their generic adventures continued, clearly differentiated from the other lines by their black-bordered covers.
Supporting the Player's Options. In May 1995, TSR kicked off a rerelease of AD&D that's since become known as 2.5e. It started off with a reprint of the Player's Handbook (1989, 1995) and the Dungeon Master's Guide (1989, 1995). After that TSR publish a unique set of variant rule books called the "Player's Options". There eventually produced three: Player's Option: Combat & Tactics (1995); Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995); and Player's Option: Spells & Magic (1996).
The Gates of Firestorm Peak is the less-well-known stepchild of the 2.5e release. It focuses heavily on the rules from Combat & Tactics and Spells & Magic and gives somewhat less attention to those from Skills & Powers. It offers its support through "Player's Option Considerations" boxes scattered throughout the book; they suggest the use of critical hits, tactical maps, knockdown, and other variants to expand the adventure. The adventure also includes an alienist conjurer who uses spell points. Finally, there's a new AD&D character sheet at the end of the adventure that includes the various Player's Option rules variants.
Adventuring Tropes. Though there's some plot in The Gates of Firestorm Keep, it's overall a pretty classic adventure featuring a town and an Underdark crawl — which is the sort of thing that was more common in the 1e era.
A History of Dungeons & Dagon. H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos hid in the dark shadows of D&D during its earliest days, thanks primarily to the interest of Rob Kuntz. He kicked things off when he wrote "The Lovecraftian Mythos in Dungeons & Dragons" for The Dragon #12 (February 1978) and later incorporated those ideas into Deities & Demigods (1980). Years later his adventure WG5: "Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure" (1984) also contained hints of his Lovecraftian Lost City of the Elders.
A couple of other early adventures were derived from the somewhat related works of Clark Ashton Smith. X2: "Castle Amber" (1981) was licensed from Smith, while WG4: "The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun" (1982), featured the eponymous Tharizdun — a god who originated in a different form in Smith's "The Dark Eidolon" (1935).
That was the very limited state of Cthulhu usage in D&D prior to The Gates of Firestorm Peak.
Expanding the Outer Planes. Firestorm Peak's largest contribution to the history of D&D was its introduction of the Far Realm, a Lovecraftian dimension of insanity and horror. The introduction of a new dimension for the AD&D game was pretty uncommon at the time, so the Far Realm probably would have gotten attention in any case. As was, it got a lot of attention because it was evocative and focused on one of D&D's influences that had long been neglected — the Cthulhu mythos.
Future History. Cordell return to his Lovecraftian ideas and to the Far Realm (which he sometimes called "Outside") in some of his later works for D&D. He also laid out elements of a Lovecraftian prehistory in a few different adventures. The series of Monstrous Arcana adventures that began with The Illithiad (1998) was the most important of these, as it featured both prehistory and the Outside. More recently, in Dragon #330 (April 2005), Cordell wrote an expansive article called "Enter the Far Realm".
The Far Realm has also been used by other D&D writers. It became an integral part of the Eberron Campaign Setting (2004) when it was incorporated into the Realm of Xoriat. James Wyatt also wrote about a campaign featuring the Far Realm in his long-running "Dungeoncraft" column (2007-2010) for Dungeon.
The Gates of Firestorm Peak was also the adventure that changed the way people thought about D&D aberrations. Beforehand, they were wizardly experiments gone wrong, but afterward they were more frequently associated with Lovecraftian monstrosities.
About the Creators. Cordell started working at TSR in 1995 and would stay with Wizards of the Coast until 2013. The Gates of Firestorm Peak was his first major publication for the company. His next work was a trilogy of sahuagin adventures for the Monstrous Arcana (1997) — written just as TSR was going out of business.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.