Gavain's Base Camp is located on the western end of the northernmost range of the Other Continent. Yes, the base camp we are looking at is centered on a volcano, but never call it a "Weyr." "Weyrs" belong on Pern, and this is something quite different. To start with, the physical dimensions are enormous. The volcano rises roughly 13,000 feet into the air, which is more than twice as high as Vesuvius. Before this monster blew its top off, the peak was roughly as high as Everest. That doesn't quiet put it in the same category as the Dragon's Back Mountains, but it was close. The base averages eight miles in diameter. The caldera is just shy of four miles, east to west, at the opening, and two miles, east to west, at the floor. North to south, the caldera is a little over three miles at the opening and a mile and a half at the floor. The floor is located about two miles deep inside the caldera and consists of black sand. Two artificially created dunes, one to the north and one to the south, rise 500 feet off the floor; the crushed rock to construct the dunes came from hollowing out living areas inside the volcano. At the eastern end of the caldera, a volcanic lake has been transformed into an oasis, which serves as this base camp's version of the Tribal Cistern. One of the problems that the Dumnonians encountered while trying to help with the defense of the Other Continent was the health of their Dragons. The Bronzes needed a much hotter and drier climate in order to survive if they were going to spend more than one rotation in camp at a time. Several modifications needed to be made to the environment, then, before the centuries could inhabit the camp.
The decision was made that mutants as well as permanently shifted Bronzes and true Bronzes would be allowed to fly in the Other Continent centuries, with fifty mutant Pairs allowed to serve at each base camp. These fifty Pairs are housed in lairs on the outside of the volcano. The volcano slopes are covered with evergreen trees, but the vegetation was cleared away from the entrances to the mutants' lairs. These lairs look pretty much like your classic dragon lair, since the mutants cannot shapeshift. A cave opening leads into a wider cavern, with an alcove piled with rugs for the mutant to sleep on. The rest of this cavern serves as the public area for the lair. This is where the Pairs receive guests and conduct business. A small hearth is furnished near the mouth of each lair so that the Pair can cook in their lair if the do not wish to make the trip to the Festival Cavern in the caldera for meals. A short tunnel leads from the public area to another, smaller cavern, which serves as the private area. This cavern is generally used for sleeping. Another short tunnel leads from the private area to an even smaller cavern, which is called the "grotto." The grotto of each lair contains a natural-looking, heated spa, and two smaller pools--one hot and one cold--for bathing or washing. An indoor latrine is located in a sheltered alcove of the grotto. Geron's magic channels the geothermal energy to heat the water; the water itself is channeled to the location from the oasis via an extensive system of natural pipes. Water travels from the oasis to cold pools and hot pools, with magic supplying the heat in the latter. Water from the cold and hot pools pours into the spa. Water from the spa is siphoned into the latrine. The water from the latrine is then channeled into a huge cavern deep in the mountain, where heat and magic are used to separate the waste from the water. The purified water is sent back to the oasis while the waste is teleported to a compost heap outside the southern slope of the mountain, where farmers are allowed to haul it away to fertilize Tramson's fields. Riders who live in these lairs are perfectly capable of sharing their living quarters with their families, pets or anything else they please. The drawback is that these Pairs have to provide their own security since the are outside the major defenses for the base camp. These lairs are also exposed to the elements. Though Geron's magic does heat the internal caverns, the entrance is exposed to snow or whatever else the Other Continent's weather chooses to throw at the mountain. With the extreme altitude to complicate matters, the temperature differential between the outside and the public cavern can sometimes be quite shocking. In clear weather, paths connecting the outside lairs and leading down to the base of the mountain can be seen threading through the trees. But, given the altitude, most people prefer to use dragons when going to and from these lairs.
Inside the caldera is an entirely different world. The biggest modification to the environment was provided by the Lord of Humor, who apparently owed Juel Elven Lord, Ruler of Rashtar, a favor. Completely invisible to anyone inside or outside the volcano except when it rains or snows is a magical barrier, which beings roughly 100 feet below the rim and continues down for about 200 feet. Above the barrier, the climate is normal for the geographical location and altitude. Below is something akin to a miniature version of Dumnonia in a magical terrarium. Four Pairs are always on guard duty atop the rim, exposed to all the elements. One Pair guards the north, another the east, a third the south, and the last the west. This duty is generally considered the worst at these base camps. The posts are often used in disciplinary matters, but, if everyone has been behaving, the duty is assigned by lot or to the most junior members of the century, at the Dragonlord's discretion. Nothing can pass through the barrier. Anything hitting the top surface is teleported 1000 miles north, out over the ocean. Anything hitting the bottom is teleported 100 miles south, two miles into the air. The Pairs in the century drill to be able to transport above and below the barrier without hitting it, in an effort to avoid the disorienting effects of the involuntary teleportation. Anyone falling from the rim would soon plunge into very frigid seawater, so extreme safety precautions are exercised at all times when serving at these posts. No foot traffic is permitted on the rim, and Riders must remain mounted at all times while on watch. Below the barrier, however, the temperature is artificially raised to a level that is far more typical of Dumnonia than of the Other Continent. Bronzes and shifted-Bronzes can safely reside here year round with no ill effects.
With the exception of the Dragonlord's lair and the Exercise Master's lair, all of the lairs inside the caldera are not on the ground floor. These lairs, which house a total of fifty shifted Bronze and true Bronze Pairs, have some modifications over the lairs that are occupied by the mutants and their Bond Partners. Each lair has a positively huge ledge, so that even an Honored Ancient could land in dragonform. A divot is carved into the face of the wall to create the ledge. At the back of the ledge is a gilt-bronze door of human proportions. The Dragon must shape-shift to enter the living quarters. This is what renders these lairs unusable by the mutants. Inside the bronze door is the public cavern, but these caverns do not have alcoves. Instead, they greatly resemble a Dumnonian tent. As in the outer lairs, the inner lairs have two more caverns, a private area and a grotto. There is enough room in the public area or the private area for an Honored Ancient to fit in the event of an unexpected transformation. But the grotto is too small to accommodate a Bronze in dragonform, so Dragons are discouraged from entering there.
Here is the basic description of the camp, starting at the ground entrance to the south and going clockwise around the caldera.
The "ground" entrance is actually level with the floor of the caldera, 10,000 feet up the slope of the mountain. It is accessible by a well-maintained road that is wide enough to take supply wagons. Mercenaries always guard the entrance. A massive, bronze-gilt, double door can be closed across the opening and barred from the inside in case of attack. The entrance leads to a tunnel that cuts all the way through the volcano to the caldera.
Just to the right of the entrance is a side tunnel that leads to the quarters for the hunters and the foresters who supply the base camp. There are ten public areas off the corridor, with small private areas attached to them. The quarters are large enough for a family of eight, provided that the occupants are willing to use bunks. How many are assigned to hunters and how many to foresters depends on the needs of the particular base camp. The hunters and foresters share a common grotto, which is located at the end of the tunnel.
A bit further down the entrance tunnel and to the left is a side tunnel that leads to barracks for the guards. The base camp employs eighty guards and one captain. The captain's quarters are modeled off the lairs of the Dragonriders and are immediately to the left upon entering the side tunnel. Beyond that there are five doors on each side of the corridor. Behind each door is a public area. In contrast to the Dragonrider lairs, the public area in the barracks is smaller than the private room. Each private room houses eight mercenaries on four sets of bunk beds. Each public/private complex is called a "patrol", and the senior warrior in each "patrol" is the ranking officer for that unit. This is the only area of the entire base camp where the walls are squared rather than curved or rounded. The guards share a common grotto at the end of their hall.
Continuing along the entrance tunnel, a huge tunnel--large enough to take wagons--branches off to the left. This tunnel leads to two of the main storage areas for the base camp. Everything that does not come under the heading "fodder" and that is not part of a caravan's cargo that will be sold for a profit is taken to these two storage rooms. The room furthest to the north receives all the food and beverage items for the camp. The southern room takes everything else.
As a traveler approaches the caldera-end of the entrance tunnel, the quarters for grooms are on the right, next to the stables. The tunnel that bears to the right has doors set in the southern wall. These lead to the public and private quarters for the grooms, who share a common grotto, which is located at the end of the tunnel. There are several openings to the left that lead to the stables. The stables are about half the size as those at Krin's Base Camp. Riding and working horses are stabled here. Empty stalls are free for use by visitors.
As you emerge from the entrance tunnel, the oasis can be glimpsed to the right. Directly ahead is the South Dune. To the left is the entrance to the Guest Quarters. This complex is designed to resemble an inn. The main corridor has five doors on the south and four on the north, leading to public and private areas, which serve as the guest suites. A common changing area and grotto is located at the end of the corridor.
Beyond the Guest Quarters are several workshops. Behind each workshop is a tunnel complex that houses the local master and any journeyman or apprentices, with apprentices having the rooms deepest inside the mountain. The master's quarters resembles a Dragonrider's lair. Journeymen get their own public/private quarters. Up to eight apprentices can be housed together in the public/private quarters designated for their use. The Guilders share a common grotto at the end of their tunnel, with the exception of the master, who has a private grotto. The order of the workshops, clockwise, is jewelers, glass-smiths, miners, smiths, carpenters, leather workers, and weavers. The workshops for these guilders all link via tunnels to the southern storage cavern.
Passing the weaver's workshop, you come to the area of the base camp where all of the food is prepared. Living in complexes that resemble those of the other Guilders, the vintners mind the camp's cellars, while the bakers and cooks tend to the bakery and kitchen, respectively. All three work areas are linked to each other as well as to the storage room for all the food products. The kitchen also has an opening to the Festival Cavern.
The Festival Cavern is positively enormous. Well over a mile long and nearly as long, the ceiling is close to three-quarters of a mile high. Smaller dragons could actually take flight in this expanse, but such behavior is frowned upon. The Dragonlord rarely eats at the head table except on feast days because the place of honor is at the extreme northwest side of the cavern. For feasts, food is laid on rugs down the center of the cavern. To either side of this central area are rows and rows of wooden trellises and benches. The entire century, all of the support personnel and many, many guests can eat here at the same time with ease.
Beyond the Festival Cavern is the work area for bards and scribes. One tunnel leads to the chamber for the Local Hoard. This is where all loot is deposited into accounts. The hoard is always guarded by a patrol, and the bronze doors to the chamber are always locked with a key that is in the possession of the Master Bard. A second tunnel behind the work area leads to the quarters for the bards and scribes. The Master Bard for the base camp is quartered to the right, immediately after entering the tunnel. The Chief Scribe is to the left. Their quarters mirror those of the Dragonriders. Beyond them are quarters for journeymen, with up to four journeyman sharing quarters. Each journeyman complex has its own grotto. Two tunnels branch off of the main tunnel. The one to the right is for bards; the one to the left is for scribes. Up to eight apprentices can be housed in each room. Apprentices share a common grotto at the end of each of their halls. The abundance of bards and scribes at the base camp has to do in part with the amount of record-keeping that needs to be done for all the guilders, warriors, and so forth, not to mention intelligence reports that need to be sent to Dumnonia and her allies, since the Other Continent is a training ground for the Dark One's troops. Also, if a base camp has a wizard or two in residence, they would be housed here.
The next opening off the floor of the caldera is to the quarters for the Chief Aide. These quarters resemble a Dragonrider's lair. The space is larger than that occupied by a Master, but smaller than that occupied by an actual Dragonrider.
Beside the Chief Aide's quarters is the opening to the Dragonlord's lair. This is by far the largest lair in the entire base camp. Double doors, gilt-bronze and somewhat reminiscent of the doors to Corin's Tomb in design, can be barred from the inside for privacy. The public area is huge, able to hold several Bronzes in dragonform. The private area is not much smaller. Decorative screens are used to separate the sleeping areas for Striplings and fosterlings from those of the Dragonlord and his mate. The grotto is also enormous. The Dragonlord could easily entertain every Dragonlord on Dumnonia plus the Dragonking in a complex of this size. Another unique feature is that the Dragonlord has three latrines instead of the standard single until.
The Exercise Master's lair is next to the Dragonlord's. Slightly smaller than the Dragonlord's quarters, the Exercise Master's complex is still impressive. The double doors to this lair are less ornate than the Dragonlord's, but they are still effective at barring entrance. The Exercise Master has a double latrine instead of the standard single unit.
Beyond the Exercise Master's lair is the opening to the tunnel complex where the support personnel are housed. Each public/private area holds one family and has its own grotto. Larger caverns are closer to the caldera, with smaller ones toward the back. A large public grotto is located at the end of the main tunnel.
The next opening leads to the Temple Cavern. This space has temple alcoves jutting off it. From the left, and going clockwise, the temples belong to the Lord of Plenty, the Lord of Humor, the Lady, the Lord of Pain, the Dark One, the Lord of Shadows, the Mother, the Elven King, the War Goddess, and the Lord of Light. Behind each temple is a tunnel complex suitable to quarter one High Priest, two Priests, four Deacons and sixteen acolytes. In addition to clerical quarters, the temple of the Mother has an extensive tunnel complex behind it that leads to rooms that can be used for the Mother's Dance.
Beside the Temple Cavern, in one of the most sheltered positions inside the base camp, the Healers' Enclave sports a waiting room, six large treatment rooms, two dozen small treatment rooms, two "observation" rooms and quarters for one master, four journeymen and sixteen apprentices. The master's quarters has a private grotto. Each set of journeymen's quarters has its own grotto. A common grotto is located at the end of the hall for the apprentices.
The quarters for the Fledglings are actually a huge cavern that opens off the caldera wall next to the Healers' Enclave. The cavern has been made to look as much like a Fledgling Tent as possible in size and furnishings. There is no grotto. Dragonteachers are quartered with the support personnel.
The next large opening leads to a massive tunnel that connects the caldera with the third storage room. This room is used for all the feed for the livestock in the base camp.
Beyond the tunnel to the third storage room is the opening to the complex that houses the Beast Guilders. Some specialty guilders are actually quartered closer to their charges, but the bulk of the beast guilders who serve the base camp are here. There are four quarters for masters, as well as room for sixteen journeymen and thirty-two apprentices. Masters have their own grottos. All others share common grottos that are located at the end of the branching corridors. There is a common area at the front of the Beast Guilders' Enclave, with part opening onto the public area of the caldera and part opening into a penned off area that contains the flocks and herds. From inside this pen, the animals have ready access to the water of the oasis at all times. The flocks and herds also have shelters carved for them inside the cliff wall. Butchering areas are located here as well. The mews are beside the animal pens, with the kennels between the stables and the mews. In front of the kennels and mews, beside the oasis, is a clear area that is reserved for caravans that come to trade at the base camp.
Other than the two dunes, which are used primarily by Bronzes who wish to soak up the sun, and the oasis, which is open to all, the floor of the caldera is completely empty since it serves as an area for take-offs and landings for the draconic residents.
That, then, is a quick look at the average base camp for the Other Continent.
The lifestyle is not for everyone. A great many people are too claustrophobic to live
inside the mountains. There is some light from torches, but the bulk of the light
comes from magical sources. That's another big drawback of these base camps: their
reliance on magic. Magic does have a habit of coming and going on Centuria. Usually
the failure is only momentary. But if the magic ever went down for a significant
period of time, it would be unlikely that the century could evacuate everyone
before the volcano erupted. Such a risk is not for the faint of heart. But then
again, most people with weak hearts do not fly around on Dragons
(Lair assignments are in parentheses. 1-50 belong to shifted Bronzes and true Bronzes.
51-100 belong to mutants. The lairs for the Dragonlord and the Exercise Master are
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(Lair assignments are in parentheses. 1-50 belong to shifted Bronzes and true Bronzes. 51-100 belong to mutants. The lairs for the Dragonlord and the Exercise Master are unnumbered.)
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