Monday, September 13, 2010

On Western Venatia - Part One

I'm juggling four projects right now, but I finally finished the intro to Western Venatia, the sandbox slated for NOD #6 in December.

I. Overview
Venatia is a region of woodlands and hills nestled between the Klarkash Mountains in the west and the Great Yamas in the east. Once dominated by the Nomo Empire, it is now home to several competing city-states, the largest being Lyonesse of the Gleaming Towers, heir apparent to Nomo. Other city-states in the region include Antigoon, heart of a mercantile network that stretches across NOD, and Blackpoort, a city of ne’er-do-wells on the shores of Blackmere.

Pandiluvian Age
During the Pandiluvian Age, Blackmere was connected to the Tepid Sea via a narrow, rocky channel. The Klarkash Mountains constituted the major landmass of the region and supported dozens of ophidian citadels, while the remainder of Western Venatia consisted of swampy, mosquito-ridden islands. The elder races constructed cities beneath the Tepid Sea while one tribe of aboleth constructed a maze-like fortress in the depths of Blackmere.

When the waters receded from the landscape, Western Venatia took on its modern appearance. The aboleth were trapped in Blackmere and very few still survive, while the heights of many a submerged city in the Tepid Sea were exposed. Lizard men moved into the swampy valleys and canyons and constructed cliff cities and magnificent ziggurats to Tiamat, the Mother of Monsters. Unlike the eastern lizard men, who formed the kingdom of Karzak, the western lizard men maintained small, feudal towns that warred incessantly. The ophidians were forced to seek shelter deep beneath the earth near volcanic vents as the Klarkash Mountains cooled.

Golden Age
As in Eastern Venatia (see NOD #4), the human slaves of the lizard men rose up and destroyed their masters, founding a number of farming and fishing villages. Where the lizard men preferred the valleys, the humans constructed their lairs on hilltops and worshiped the sky (i.e. Jove) rather than the sea. Many humans lived in the woodlands as hunter-gatherers, and persist to this day as wild men of the woods.

The human villages never amounted to much, and thus dozens of humanoid tribes (orcs, gnolls, goblins and hobgoblins) were able to establish themselves in Western Venatia.

Modern Age
The Modern Age was initiated with the coming of the legions of Nomo. Legion XXXI descended into the Rooky Wood from Chimeria in the Klarkash Mountains and established the forts that would become Morrow and Pfeife. Legion XXXI became bogged down fighting the goblins and spiders of the woods, and went no further. In the meantime, Legion XIV arrived from the south (after securing Brigandy’s tribute via a marriage between the son of Corundus, legion commander and the niece of Queen Gloriana, who reigns to this day), constructing the old fort at Antigoon and then moving up the Swiven River. Legion XIV would found Blackpoort and Lyonesse on their way to carving out what become known as the Westerling Empire, subservient to Nomo but always threatening revolt.

With the fall of Nomo, the city-states of Western Venatia enjoy independence. Tristram, the king of Lyonesse, fancies himself a contender for the imperial crown, and would very much like his agents to find the lost relic that he may claim the title. Antigoon and Blackpoort, meanwhile, arm themselves for the eventual struggle with Lyonesse, for they wish to remain independent.

II. Regions

Blackmere is a large, fresh water lake that empties into the Tepid Sea via the Swiven River. Blackmere is a shallow lake with crystal clear water; passing ships have no trouble spotting the ruins that lie beneath the water, though the predators of the lake have adapted camouflage in the form of black skin or scales. The eastern shore of Blackmere is treeless and interrupted by rocky gullies the pour in frothing, freezing water that originates in the Klarkash Mountains and rushes through the wooded canyons of the Rooky Wood. The western shore is choked with massive, black oaks and willows. The bottom of the lake is covered in smooth, black stones and large forests of bright, green kelp that hide the stone houses of the lake goblins.

Dreadful Forest
The Dreadful Forest is thick and dark, consisting mostly of evergreens (spruce, pine) and brambles. More information on the Dreadful Forest can be found in NOD #4.

Forest Perilous
The Forest Perilous is an ancient woodland of oaks, hawthorns, and willows. The trees here are gnarled and twisted and prove very difficult to traverse. Many small, quick streams flow through the woodland. Forest paths are almost always twisted and useless; most end in traps set by ogres or pixies. Light in the woodland is never better than twilight.

The Forest Perlous surrounds the city-state of Lyonesse. Some suggest that only the devotion of the Lyones to Ceres keeps the forest monsters at bay.

Gaestly Hills
The Gaestly Hills are an expanse of rough highlands studded with ancient barrows and burial chambers. Most of these burial sites were cleared by adventurers over the last 100 years, their treasures plundered and their secrets revealed, but a few remain untouched. The Gaestly Hills are rich with iron and silver deposits. They also support a good deal of game, and make adequate pasture for sheep and goats.

The hills are dominated (if anything can be said to dominate the bleak, mossy landscape) by the city-state of Blackpoort. Blackpoort is the main southern port on Blackmere, and handles goods coming from exotic Mu-Pan by the Jade Road via the Venatian League in the north.

Grete Myre
The Grete Myre is a thick, wooded swamp stalked by reptilian savages. A few bold human renegades dwell in the swamp, often hiding from the authorities of Antigoon. These “myrefolk” supply the alchemists of Antigoon with rare herbs and animal specimens.

The myre is bordered to the north by the Gaestly Hills, to the east by the Dreadful Forest, to the west by the Nybling Hills and the the south by Biscotti Bay, an arm of the Tepid Sea. The principal settlement of the Grete Myre is Antigoon, which dominated the moors that rise on the border between the myre and the hills.

Klarkash Mountains
Ancient and wicked, the Klarkash Mountains separate Venatia from Umbriago, the cradle of Nomo. The mountains are tall and have molded by the wind into great lumps of limestone divided by deep, lightless canyons. These canyons are home to fungal horrors and depraved fairy folk, as well as a few rugged clans of wild men and several hordes of hobgoblins.

The western mountains that border Venatia are a bit less severe than the eastern reaches, and even support stands of silvery beeches and coppery grass on their ledges.

Nybling Hills
The Nyblings are wooded hills that extend from the Tepid Sea to the Klarkash Mts. They have a pleasant climate and are mostly covered with oak trees. The local “barbarians” include gnomes, kobolds, svarts and bugbears. The northern portion of the hills is settled by Antigooners and has many trails connecting manors and strongholds. The remainder of the woodland is quite wild, with the southern reaches dominated by trolls.

The hills were once the hunting preserve of the Nomo’s Emperor and his clan. He constructed his summer palace, Amvianda, in the hills and each year hosted a glorious bardic college. Amvianda is now a lonely beacon of civilization in the midst of the wilds. Patrols of rangers do their best to keep the town safe and maintain communication with the outside world, but they are hard pressed. Since the fall of the Emperor, the chamberlain of the palace has been the defacto ruler of Amvianda, and he has proven to be less than capable in the role.

Rooky Wood
The Rooky Wood was the last portion of Venatia brought under (loose) control by the legions of Nomo. It consists of a number of narrow, winding canyons shot through by fast, icy streams that empty into Blackmere. The badlands support hardy, evergreen trees and brambles and are haunted by arachnids and goblins. The forest was once home to demon worshipers, who summoned many fiends in the days of old. Shrines to demon princes can be found in the woods, and often they bear signs of recent use.

Tepid SeaThe Tepid Sea is thoroughly described in NOD #1. We will note here that it is a shallow, blue-green sea and home to mermaids, sahuagin, tritons and undines. A good deal of commerce goes through the Tepid Sea to Mother Ocean, much of it to or from the city-state of Antigoon. The two other major ports on the Tepid Sea are Tremayne and Ophir (which appears in NOD #2).

III. Random EncountersRandom encounters should be diced for twice each day, once in the daytime and once at night, with dangerous encounters occurring on the roll of 1 on 1d6 and traveler encounters on the roll of a 6 (see below).

1-2 Men-at-Arms (6d6)
3 Pilgrims (3d6)
4 Refugees (9d6)
5-6 Traders (2d6)

1 Aquatic Hobgoblins (6d6)
2 Aboleth Thralls (6d6)
3 Nixie (6d6)
4 Privateer (6d6)
5 Raven, Giant (3d6)
6 Kelpie (2d6)
7 Cathbad (1d8)
8 Scrag (1d8)
9 Ghost (1d4)
10 Afanc (1)

Dreadful Forest
1 Carnivorous Flying Squirrel (6d6)
2 Wild Man (6d6)
3 Lizardman (5d6)
4 Giant Lizard (4d6)
5 Black Bear (3d6)
6 Noroob (3d6)
7 Ogre (3d6)
8 Baccae (2d6)
9 Firedrake (2d6)
10 Pseudo-Dragon (2d6)
11 Woodwose (1d8)
12 Hill Giant (1d6)

Forest Perilous
1 Brownie (6d6)
2 Elf (6d6)
3 Wolf (5d6)
4 Ogre (3d6)
5 Dryad (2d6) or Nymph (2d6)
6 Satyr (2d6)
7 Wraith (2d6)
8 Actaeon (1d8)
9 Treant – 7 HD (1d8)
10 Dragon – Green, Adult, 7 HD (1d6)
11 Leopard (1d6, attack with surprise)
12 Unicorn (1d6)

Gaestly Hills
1 Bandit (6d6)
2 Orc (6d6)
3 Wolf (5d6)
4 Ghoul (4d6) or Ghast (2d6) or Ghost (1d6)
5 Falcon, Giant (3d6)
6 Lycanthrope – Were-rat (3d6)
7 Ogre (3d6)
8 Vierd (3d6) or Wight (2d6)
9 Bat, Giant (2d6)
10 Owlbear (2d6)
11 Cockatrice (1d8)
12 Hill Giant (1d6)

Grete Myre
1 Giant Leech (5d6)
2 Lizardman (5d6)
3 Thugtoad (5d6)
4 Crocodile (4d6)
5 Zombie, Leper (4d6)
6 Giant Frog – Large (3d6)
7 Harpy (3d6)
8 Noroob (3d6)
9 Giant Dragonfly (1d6)
10 Hydra (1d4; roll heads randomly for each)
11 Shambling Mound – 9 HD (1d3)
12 Froghemoth (1)

Nybling Hills
1 Badger – Giant (4d6)
2 Black Bear (3d6)
3 Bugbear (4d6)
4 Bulette (1d4)
5 Giant Owl (2d6)
6 Giant Weasel (2d6) or Wereweasel (2d6)
7 Gnome (6d6)
8 Highwayman (3d6)
9 Kill-Bunny (5d6)
10 Kobold (6d6)
11 Troll (1d8)
12 Wolf (5d6)

Rooky Wood
1 Aranea (1d8)
2 Bugbear (4d6)
3 Cave Bear (1d8)
4 Drider (1d6)
5 Ettercap (2d6)
6 Forlarren (2d6)
7 Forester’s Bane (2d6)
8 Giant Spider – 4 ft (2d6) or Phase Spider (2d6)
9 Goblin (6d6)
10 Hobgoblin (6d6)
11 Imp (1d8) or Quasit (1d8)
12 Quickling (1d8)

Tepid Sea
1 Locathah (6d6)
2 Pirate (6d6)
3 Mermaid (3d6)
4 Scrag (2d6)
5 Harpy (1d6)
6 Sea Serpent – Gilded (1d6)
7 Shark, Large (1d6)
8 Sea Serpent – Fanged (1d4)
9 Giant Octopus (1d3)
10 Roc (1d3)
11 Sea Serpent – Briny (1d3) or Spitting (1d3)
12 Aspidochelone (1)

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