5th Edition,  Coldforged,  D&D,  DMXP,  RPG,  World Building

Coldforged Atlas: Physical Terrain Part 2

I continue rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. I’m working on the Atlas currently, trying to make sure the physical descriptions of what the land feels and looks like match up. Le’ts dive in.

There are many regions on the continent that need description, and following up on the first four, here we have another batch, moving south and describing the rest of the Continent!

The Forest of Thrax

The forest of Thrax is a tough and brutal land. Its terrain is rocky, dense, and tough, providing little in the way of agricultural land, forcing those who live here to constantly battle against the forest itself in order to provide for themselves and their families.

To the north, the land is saturated with rocky, jagged hills topped with wiry, tough trees and shrubs, as the land gradually turns into the Ironarm Mountains, the land grows progressively worse, becoming a tough tangle of briars, stunted trunks, and boulder debris fields. Here, streams crash from the mountains down into the rivers that carve south through the broken land.

To the east, where the forests reach the edge of the continent at huge cliffs and broken rock causeways, storms gather and sunder the sky and land alike. The ferocity of these storms wear constantly on the edge of the continent, and it is not uncommon to hear thunder in a clear day and know that somewhere, down the coast, a cliff has tumbled into the raucous maelstrom.

To the west, as the harsh forest gives way to the pleasant glades of the Levishan woods, the land becomes more fertile, with strong, massive deciduous trees mixing with powerful conifers. Rocks are still ever-present, but now are smaller, less harsh, and much more workable. Here, the thickness of the forest isn’t measured by how slow you walk and how careful you must be, but instead, how thick the undergrowth is and how lush the ground is with ferns, bushes, berries, and thorns. The Rivers here are fast, still, with many waterfalls and rapids, as the land, though pleasant, has sudden drops, breaks, and hills throughout none the less.

To the south is the massive, deep forest of brambles and stout trees, fed regular water from the snowmelt in the Ironarm Mountains and the now pleasant rains of the eastern coast, everything here grows massive. Bushes, berries, shrubs, and dense grasses take up every inch that they are allowed to, clogging all possible growing space and fighting for sunlight. The dense grass takes more and more space as you trek south, eventually entering the central, sporadically wooded grasslands.

The Lochs of Bloodhunter Bay

Around the borders of Bloodhunter bay, the land is full of rolling hills and thick forests and has created unique geography full of low lakes, high hills, and lost wildernesses. These lochs, through a variety of inlets and estuaries, are often connected to the ocean itself and contain briny water, hosting the creatures and monsters of the sea. Many have rocky and broken shores, surrounded by hills with forests rolling directly to the shores. Those that are unconnected to the ocean are often deep, cold, and mysterious.

The Aloran Plain

The Plains of Alora, broken by sporadic forests, copses of trees and gentle river valleys, spreads from the cost of the eastern coast of the continent above Bloodhunter bay through the central portion until it merges with the northern lowlands and forests of Jeslith, south of Levisha. It also extends southwards to meld with the great southern forests of Tyndaria and border the Toldiri Hills.

The northern portions of the plains are more broken with hills and rocky outcroppings than the south, displaying the traits of the forest of Thrax it borders. While there are still wide spaces and open fields, the rocky outcroppings pop up regularly and fast-flowing, burbling streams split the land, much more abundant than stands of trees or groupings of the brush.

Towards the coast, the grass grows thin and low, and the soil is poor. It seems like this land is blighted and damaged, with yellow grains growing sickly near the winding, slow streams. Brush and stunted trees are plentiful, most failing to grow taller than a person. You can often see for miles across the hilly landscape.

To the west, as the plains merge into the hills of the Toldiri and the lowlands of the west, the pine trees grow tall among the wide river valleys that form here in the broad, flat plain. In contrast to the north and west, the land is fertile and the hills, plentiful as they are, tend to be broad, rolling ones, pleasant and agreeable. Low, sheltered valleys, hidden from view but not from the world, are scattered across the region and have long been a source of great beauty, with their pleasant streams, lush grasses, and tall trees providing all that is needed to exist.  Standing stones, henges, and ancient burial mounds litter the area, telling both of the lands history and its fertile nature, one that can easily support plentiful life, but is not deeply inhabited at this point in history.

To the south, as the plains meld into the central deciduous forests and the mighty rivers of the continent, the Aloran plains take on a greater, more intimidating sense. The copses of mighty trees stand tall, and the rivers run strong, with countless tributaries feeding each branch unto the whole, banks lined with stately bloodoaks and marble maples, indicating where the water and nutrients int eh soil are clearly the strongest. The plains still occupy the majority of the land but become overwhelmed the further one goes south.

The Great Southern Forests

The third great forest of Tysis, spreading from the edges of the Aloran Plain to the southern coastal flats and stretching eastward from undine bay to the Drimmak Hills, the Southern Forests are a diverse set of woodlands, glades, and meadows that have been occupied for thousands of years.

In the north, as the Aloran plains give way, trees spring up in the relatively flat region, growing massively tall where they have not been logged or cleared to make way for people. The massive trees represent dozens of species and shelter all manners of creatures within. It is a broad and dense forest, but not so dense as to prohibit travel and occupation if one sets their mind to it.

The trees and forest get increasingly dense, becoming intractable in places, though still generally passable, the undergrowth mostly saplings, ferns, and pleasant bushes. Here, the forest becomes riddled with waterways of all sizes, making the ground often soggy and unstable in the spring and fall with the frequent precipitation. The trees grow the most massive here, broken rarely into meadows both large and small, natural and artificial. It is vastly underexplored here, and some who enter the foreboding woods never return.

In the east, as the foothills of the Drimmak Mountains encroach on the forest, it becomes a tangled mix of hills, woods, and streams, cutting lost, secret valleys, raiding intimidating heights and growing foreboding, unsettling woods. When the land clears, however, the glades and what pleasant valleys provide comfortable contrast to what lies beyond the explored and conquered regions.

As the forests head west, the giant deciduous trees first intermingle and then give way to massive swaths of fire-prone conifers living in the sandy and flat soil south of the Toldiri hills. Little grows under the canopy of trees, providing a clear, open forest much at odds with the rest of the regions. Travel is slowed not due to trees or other plants, but instead due to the soft terrain itself. These barrens eventually give way to the low rolling plains and pleasant coast of the undine bay, merging with the forests of the south to give way to the Gray Morass.

The Drimmak Mountains

Within the Drimmark are mountains the stretch into the clouds, forming impossible barriers and creating regal, secluded, and enormous remote valleys.

Along the coast with Bloodhunger Bay, the bulge of Mountains tower imperiously, coming to a sudden end. Unbelievable statues stand along the entire coast, carved by a long-dead civilization unknown to those who live there even now. The beaches are shallow and rocky, and shelter hundreds of coves and rocky hideaways in the small islands and undulating shores.

Along the eastern coast, where the mountain range reaches the ocean, the land is more pleasant, as the mountains seem to shy away from the sea, leaving a wide swath of storm-wracked, if fertile land, peppered by pleasant lagoons and waterways that provide plenty of shelters, freshwater, and access to the ocean. Smaller trees and grasses, as well as hearty shrubs, thrive at the confluence, taking water from air and earth to fuel their growth. The ocean, however, drives deep into the mountains, creating deep and jagged fjords with fertile lands surrounding the valleys.

To the south, once again the mountains seemingly fall again into the sea, battered into hundreds of once-great mountains weathered into islands separated from each other by shallow channels. Many secret caves and dangerous shallows lurk here, providing both shelter and protection against those who do not know their way. The Jagged rocks and tumbled remains of earthquakes and rock slides prevent the beaches from being comfortable or kind, permeating the region with a sense of constant danger.

The central region of the range is that of strings of mountains scraping the sky and high, cold valleys where rivers make their way down to the sea. Here, the forests are durable, hearty trees that bear little fruit, though not plentiful, it is not uncommon to have groves scattered across a valley. The Mountains themselves quickly become punishingly harsh, jagged, and towering, with jutting rock protrusions, overhangs, and numerous caves.

To the east, the mountains fade slowly into the rugged hills and then into the central forests. The trees, too, climb the mountains in this area, creating wooded hills and mountains with a vast variety of plants and animals calling it home. The woods are tough and hearty pines and conifers that cling to the rocky hills and mountains faces. The area is arid and tough, with little precipitation making it past the towering mountains, those plants that grow are ones that can survive in the punishing terrain.

The Southern Coastland

As the forest approaches the coast, it thins out and becomes mostly grassy, with scattered groves of trees and bushes, before finally thinning into clustered, broad and sandy beaches and heavy dunes. These are interspersed with wide, high cliffs of chalk and other pale stone, making for fantastic sights while out to sea. The area is also broken with a number of smaller, discreet hideaways, though none as plentiful as the shores of the Grey Morass or the Drimmak Mountains. Throughout the area, the beaches and wide cliffs provide plenty of shelters, with copses of trees and bushes providing a lush ground. Many rivers, both great and small, split the coast into small pockets of fertile land and diverse life.

The Gray Morass

The Gray morass is a stinking, reeking bog perpetuated by the immortal dragon known as Jet. Once a relatively small area, it has grown over the years from both the magical and physical inundations of the land.

The entire coast is riddled with islands both large and small that spread into the ocean for hundreds of miles. They are known as Jets Children, and within the islands are hundreds of caves, lagoons, inlets, and atolls. Each route through is a jealously guarded secret by the ship captains, many of whom have turned to piracy and raiding. These islands are covered in ocean birds, small towns, hideouts, and forts populated by the families of pirate crews and long ago marooned sailors.

To the north, the morass is eternally expanding into the warm, sparse forests of the Killbaran south, where the bogs and fens creep steadily upward, creating copses of dead trees and lakes infested with rot.

To the east, the trees are deciduous instead of evergreens, and the spread is much faster. Each stream, pond, and the lake slowly turns fetid and reeking as the morass spreads outward. Pocketing the area hundreds of miles around with bogs, fens, and marshes.

The central area of the Morass is riddled with those same still ponds, boggy marshes, and rotten trees. Mangrove and cypress as well as hardwoods thrive in the raised areas, feeding in the nutrient-rich soils. The morass is impossible to map as the ever-shifting waterways continually change the features of the land. There are some permanently less wet areas within the deepest locations of the swamp, where the trees grow thick and impenetrable and the undergrowth impossible to traverse.