Ishiyama, Japanese for "Iron Mountain", is one of five Open Arenas of the Solaris Games. Located in the Kobe sector of Solaris City on Solaris VII, the manmade mountain has become something of a nightmare for the BattleMechs which fight within its subterranean tunnels, as no MechWarrior is even sure of its exact layout. This leads to exciting matches and help make the arena one of the most popular on the circuit.
Construction of Ishiyama began in 2785 with one man, Anjin Ito, serving as the primary architect for the mountain of stone, titanium and steel. The mystery of the mountain began almost immediately as Ito split the blueprints into several parts and had different crews working on each, before having new crews come in and rework what had been done before. When it was completed two years later, no one knew the layout but Ito, who went a step further in destroying all existing plans. Protests against this action as being unsafe for the MechWarriors who would fighting within the mountain could not stop from Ishiyama being licensed as an official Solaris arena, and from its first match the mountain has been very popular with spectators who enjoyed its naturalistic look and the frantic battles which take place in its twisting tunnels. Reportedly, when the Matabushi Corporation took over management of Ishiyama in 2805, they received a single map of the entire mountain's layout from Ito. The architect died a year later, taking the secret with him to the grave, while Matabushi is believed to keep this lone copy tightly locked up at their corporate offices on Albiero. Only a trusted few are supposedly allowed access to these plans, which they must memorize, and in the arena's history no one is known to have betrayed this trust; maintenance crews are regularly rotated out and never allowed a view of the full picture either.
Within the imposing structure of Ishiyama, the twisting tunnels and caverns of the manmade mountain are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. MechWarriors are transported to random locations within the mountains with their machine's sensors blinded, then must catch their bearings and locate their opponent when the match begins. Each section of the mountain is controlled by at least one level boss, who can throw up any number of obstacles in the MechWarrior's path: secret passages and pitfalls might suddenly open up, pitched darkness can be replaced by blinding light, hidden landmines activated and ambient temperature changed. While management denies it, many MechWarriors swear that the internal layout itself can be changed, as even those who have fought many times within Ishiyama have never trod over the same area twice. Independent efforts to try and map out the Iron Mountain have all failed as well. Only the rich purse offered by fighting within its confines has continued to convince MechWarriors to attempt the terrors of Ishiyama
Perhaps the most dreaded type of match fought at Ishiyama is the blind challenge: a single MechWarrior faces off against a random number of opponents in 'Mechs of similar mass but unknown type. The challenge is popular with most spectators and frequently taken up by young MechWarriors hoping to prove themselves.
Aside from some new tunnels constructed to replace a few that collapsed from overuse, the Jihad did not significantly alter the functionality and design of the Ishiyama arena itself, but when Word of Blake used the arenas for execution matches, they increased the frequency of the traps, and even introduced the added surprise of spontaneous “rock falls”. Post-Jihad, the arena’s management opted to retain these features, while also introducing after 3080 a “Maze and the Minotaur” option, where an expert MechWarrior, employed by the arena itself, would be sent into the venue ahead of the match, with orders to attack any competitor who crossed his path. The ’Mech — always of a weight class heavier than the largest competitor in the arena — was invariably painted in camouflage scheme of mottled blacks, browns, and grays, with cosmetic modifications made to its head to appear as if the ’Mech is wearing a horned kabuto helmet, and the addition of a sashimono (back banner) bearing House Kurita’s crest. Furthermore, both the ’Mech and its pilot were always referred to as “Paul”, regardless of the warrior’s actual name or gender. For gameplay purposes, Paul the Samurai Minotaur is always a MechWarrior with Piloting and Gunnery scores of 2/2, whose ’Mech is always one weight class above the heaviest unit in the current match. (If the heaviest unit in the match is an assault ’Mech, Paul the Samurai Minotaur drives a refurbished SHP-X4 Omega.
Seating at Ishiyama is limited to just 34,000 total, requiring reservation times of at least a year in advance. 33,000 general seating is available for just 15 C-bills a ticket, allowing the crowds to watch on high-resolution, large-format flatscreens. A thousand private booths are available with admission set at 75 C-bills, offering closed-circuit Tri-Vid monitors to view the action. Scalpers are notorious for offering tickets at up to a hundred times their listed value despite the severe crackdown by Kurita officials.
- Solaris VII: The Game World – Player's Book, p. 52
- ''Solaris VII: The Game World – Player's Book, p. 54
- Experimental Technical Readout: Royal Fantasy, pp. 29–30: "3146 Royal Fantasy Rules - Ishiyama (Kurita Arena)"
- Solaris VII: The Game World – Player's Book, p. 45