Dark Lands

Just to the west of the Rocking Sea is the region known as the Dark Lands. It gets its name because of all the smoke and ash created by all the volcanic activity. This blanket has blocked out the suns over the entire western side of the Ancient Slopes. Under this black cloud, not much can survive. In addition to getting little or no sun most of the time, the area is also known for its devastating storms.

Geography

This region covers some 6.5 million square miles with elevations over 100,000 feet. On the western border of this territory near the Rocking Sea, temperatures never fall below 100 degrees. This phenomenon is caused by the heat being trapped by the cloud cover. As you move east, the mountains begin to rise higher and higher, the heat bubble from the sea dissipates. The temperature compared to most northern regions is downright cold, with an average temperature of about 60 degrees cooling the higher you climb. At some of the peaks, the temperature never gets above 0. Bordering on the east are the foothills. The smoke begins to break up a bit here, letting in some sun and giving this area a more temperate region.
The terrain through this region is full of sharp and jagged rock formations. The ground itself almost seems twisted and distorted with deep chasms and jetting peaks. In some parts, so much so that it makes natural mazes. The landscape is also littered with many caverns. Some just a few 100 feet deep others traverse massive lengths of the Ancient Slopes. The landscape is always covered in layers of ash, almost like black snow.

Ecosystem

There are two linked but separate ecosystems at work here. You have the surface system and then the cavern system beneath.
We will start with the surface. To begin breathing is a choir from the high altitudes and volcanic pollution. Visibility in the region is generally only a few hundred feet at most. Extended stays on the surface can permanently affect one's health without some form of protection. The rivers, streams, lakes, and other surface water are acidic and contaminated with ash. At any time, volcanic vents and geysers can erupt with no provocation. Sending boiling water, heated gases, chunks of rock, or, if very unlucky, magma. If these dangers were not enough to discourage your visit here, perhaps the storms will. Due to the extreme hostile nature topside, most creatures generally only venture out to travel from one cave to another, attempting to avoid storms.
Thanks to natural filtration through the rock, the water sources below the surface are clean and pure. Making this nightmarish maze of tunnels and caverns, by comparison, a paradise to the surface. Underneath is home to many deadly species, both animal and plant. These are not the only hazards down here. This maze of tunnels can lead to dead ends, lava tubes, and poisonous gasses, to name a few.

Localized Phenomena

  • Lightning Storms. These storms will come thundering out of nowhere with high winds and multiple lightning strikes. Being caught out in the open in one of these storms is incredibly dangerous.
  • Ash Storms. Powerful winds will pull ash from the land into the air, making a cloud that is impossible to breathe in.
  • Acid Rain. The volcanic gasses cause the rain in this area to become highly acidic.
  • Volcanic Tornadoes. The final terrifying storm in this region is these nasty twisters. Inside the spinning cone of death, the winds reach well over 300mph. The spiraling winds are filled with ash, sand, rock, volcanic glass, magma, and other debris. One of these tornadoes could easily rend flesh from bone quickly.

Fauna & Flora

The only living plant life found on the surface is Razor Grass clumps jetting through the ash and soot. Underground is another story. There are a varity of species of both plants and fungi that have adapted to this new strange enviroment.

Natural Resources

This territory due to its high volcanic level is a treasure trove full of gems and minerals.

History

The orginal inhabitants became what is now know as Ash Elves Over time their territory became harsher and harsher after the The Cataclysm. It was not long before they were forced to submerge below the surface to survive. Unfortunatly they were not the only ones to seak refuge here. The ash elves made alliances with the tribes of goliaths, gnomes, and dwarves, who were also forced to take refuge below. The Crimson Concord was struck and the Crimson Kingdom was born. Over the years, there have been many wars and battles fought over territories underneath. The primary antagonists to the Crimson Kingdom are hoards of Shadow Orcs and Night Goblins.
Alternative Name(s)
The Deadlands, The Nightshade Mountains.
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Cover image: Sunset in Drakkar by William Shifty

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