Sunday, July 20, 2014

Horned Mountain Valley - Region

Check out that rapid iteration. I decided I needed to flip North/South on my map and I really like how it changed it. Silly that something so simple could make it feel so different (and so much better). And now, to continue from where I left off yesterday, information about the Horned Mountain Valley region.

The East-West Trade Road
Major trade caravans run the great East-West Trade Road on a seasonal circuit, hauling all manner of goods, but smaller, more regional companies can have a rotational schedule past Horned Mountain Valley as short as four weeks. The road is relatively safe, with most threats coming from the local flora and fauna instead of organized humanoids, but shallow caves around Icewater Lake have provided refuge to bandits before and likely will again. Groups of flagellant pilgrims, bearing litters of the wounded, ancient and insane, can be found on the road with some regularity en route to the Blessed Waters of Plenia far to the east. The pilgrims, unlike the merchants, almost always pass the valley by, but both groups whisper that it is a cursed place in cursed mountains.

Who's on the Road? A 2d6 table
2. A major trade caravan headed east
3. An individual pilgrim headed to the Reliquary of St. Claudia [0908]
4. Nothing but trees and elk
5. A small trade caravan headed east
6. A solo adventurer headed east
7. Nothing but trees and elk
8. 1d4+1 adventurers headed west
9. A small trade caravan headed west
10. Nothing but trees and elk
11. A 2d12+4 pilgrims headed east to the Blessed Waters of Plenia
12. A major trade caravan headed west

The Screeching Forest
Misty woods of ancient pine, spruce and fir shade the east-west trade road and fill Horned Mountain Valley. Locals and travelers alike call this coniferous expanse The Screeching Forest after the echoing cries of the small grey owls who hop between its branches. The owls, called "screechers" by locals and "pine howlers" by travelers, sound like a louder and more terrifying version of a barn owl (get thee to the youtubes!), and their population is so large that the forest is never without their cries.

Icewater Lake
Much of the meltwater from the Horned Mountains flows into Icewater Lake, keeping it incredibly cold and clear year round. Black bears are known to inhabit shallow caves along its shores and typically do a good job of deterring bandits from using them as safe houses along the east-west trade road. Some say there's quite a bit of treasure up in those caves from back when Garic Redwind's gang terrorized the road before Lamplight sank into the swamp, but if anyone's found it, they've never returned with proof.

Lamplight Ruins
Metal has always been a relatively scarce commodity around Horned Mountain Valley. Most all major known veins in the Horned Mountains are controlled by the Braidbeard dwarves to the east in their kingdom behind the Redsteel Door. About a century ago, a valley family with the name of Skall, discovered they could extract iron from Black Orchid Bog through secret methods. The town of Lamplight bloomed rapidly around their smithies on the east-west trade road and for a time all was good. The Skalls crafted masterwork metal tools and weapons of black steel that people from the valley came to call Bogmetal and Bogblades. Bandits set up along the roads and the region began to destabilize as established trade routes were disrupted and numerous factions tried to get their hands on both bogblades and the secrets of their creation.

But the boomtown of Lamplight was not to last. No one knows exactly how it happened, and every family has its own theory as to why, but one clear morning at precisely 11:00am, 95% of Lamplight sank into Black Orchid Bog. Some say they saw strange golden lights in the skies the night before, and others say the mountains were draped in shifting colors an hour before the destruction. Local merchant families believe the Braidbeard dwarves felt threatened by the growing popularity of bogmetal and engineered Lamplight's destruction by digging and collapsing secret tunnels in an effort to protect their trade. But by far the most popular theory in the valley places the blame on the evil that sleeps in Windsong Cave [1308] because the snows came late that year.

No matter the cause, Lamplight sank into the swamp, taking the whole Skall family, the secret of bogmetal, and most of the town's population with it. The few remaining bogblades in Horned Mountain Valley are prized as signs of wealth and power and are passed down within their family from generation to generation.

But gold, in trees, and there's a lady version too
Black Orchid Bog
A variety of twisted and hunched white barked birch tree thrives in the waterlogged lowlands known as Black Orchid Bog. In the fall before the snows come, their leaves turn a bright, flame colored red, and black orchids bloom in their branches. Most of the orchids bloom with long trailers of black stars, but every so often, one will bloom with gold flowers that look like tiny naked human men or women. The inhabitants of Horned Mountain Valley call these "Children of the Goldmother" and when a lover wishes to become the life mate of their partner, it is customary to propose with a gold orchid harvested by their own hand. Black Orchid Bog is a dangerous place however, and many who set out to find the Children never return.

The Nesting Fields
In the spring, thousands of white stonesong birds mate and raise their young in these fields. Resembling large geese, stonesong birds are capable of breathing petrifying clouds of glittering blue dust as a defensive mechanism. They began nesting here several generations ago, shortly after Lamplight sank. Statues of wolves, foxes, and would be hunters from the valley dot the plains here as a testament to the slow learning process of that first spring. Some families travel to the fields each fall to clean the statues of their great-great-grandparents and hunt for useful items dropped by the foolish wizards who still attempt to study or capture the birds.
But bigger, meaner and with worse breath

The Horned Mountains
Most travelers believe the Horned Mountains were named for their craggy peaks, but this is only partially true. Every normal, non-magical, non-intelligent bird, mammal or amphibian born in the mountains or mountain valleys of this region grow horns of some time. The type of horn varies widely from species to species, but is always the same within the species itself. For example, rabbits grow a single forward pointing horn in the middle of their skulls, frogs grow spiraled horns along their spines, owls and foxes sport antlers, and domesticated dogs grow curled ones like a big horned sheep. Corvids (crows and ravens), wolves, and all types of cat are immune to this process and appear totally normal.

The growth of horns is completely based upon the creature's location of birth. If a mother owl with antlers, builds her nest within The Screeching Forest, all owls born from that clutch will grow up antler-free. Should she fly across the east-west trade road and lay next year's clutch in the mountains, these owlets will sprout antlers as they age.

Inhabitants of Horned Mountain Valley treat horned animals as totally normal, everyday things, and delight at the shock foreigners get when seeing them. Particularly beautiful or ugly specimens sell well to traveling merchants as exotic curiosities, and scholarly wizard types have been known to spend years in the mountains studying this phenomenon. Some say the animals were not always this way, and that their transformation is the result of a curse cast upon the land when the Goldmother abandoned it long ago.



Post a Comment