Haunted Lands

The land is scarred and broken like the crumbling ruins of a once-great Minotaur kingdom. No one will lay claim to the unwanted land, except for the restless spirits and unsavory creatures who are intrigued by its dark history. You'd be wise to avoid it. Most of the adventurers and scholars who journey to the Haunted Lands don't return, and those that do are never the same.
— Headmaster Vincent Trench
 
Before the Era of the Bonded One, vast Minotaur Kingdom’s stretched across the Tonarian continent subsided only by the greatness of Al'Madoon's chosen race, the Elves. One of these remarkable societies, the Minotaur Kingdom of Varhul, rose to prominence in the Sundermist Tips western shadow. On the opposite side of the mountain range, a powerful Elven nation flourished in the Elumian Forests. Hatred of being seen as inferior fueled the drums of war and the neighboring nations rarely saw more than a decade of peace.
 
Following Al'Madoon’s sacrifice and the rise of Humans, the Varhul Empire fought to maintain their kingdom and repel their sworn enemies in the Elumian Forest. Centuries of death from Elven arrows combined with dangerous new threats from the north helped bleed the once-great Varhul Kingdom dry.   As the body count rose, the taint of death spread eating away at the once lush farmlands, twisting the landscape and forcing the Varhul Empire into submission. Now, those who remain must contend with their fallen ancestors and all others who die while standing on the corrupt soil of the Haunted Lands. For when the sun sets, the dead will rise again.

Geography

What was once lush farmlands and marsh show their end as the now dry wetland lay dying and the hardened flats crack. The landscape rises and falls by misshapen mound and shallow hill as hundreds of barren and rotted trees gasp for water. One must be aware when traveling. The broken land periodically opens with great sinkholes and fissures, leading to tunnels in the expanses below.

Fauna & Flora

Fiend's Ivy

These long, red thorn covered vines can stretch up to 6 feet long with sharp thorns that extend up to an inch. It is common to find blood stains around these vines as creatures can easily trip or get caught in a bushel. The vines also seem to have a sentient quality as they relax when prey is near, and contract when captured.  

Mandrake Root

This tan root has serrated edges along its body which often cause injury to untrained Herbalists who lack the proper harvesting technique. When stripped of its outer layer, the soft center can be eaten with relative ease and is often used by to reduce pain from poison or disease.  

Spineflower Berries

Typically found hanging from bone-like flowers, this chalk-like berry can be harvested and crushed to enhance toxins. However, this effect only applies when introduced directly to the bloodstream. When ingested normally these berries provide little sustenance, but do not harm the person.

Varhul Empire

Once the pinnacle of the Varhul Empire, Kaius was a remarkable city before the Great Sacrifice and one of the only civilizations to successfully fight back against Elturel. After Elturel's fall, the minotaur awoke from their time-lapse to a crumbling empire and began to rebuild.
  Blessed with countless riches, the Varhul were attacked consistently by Elves in the Elumian Forest, Dwarves in the Sundermist Tips, and Humans from the Mistwood as all civilizations fought to learn and reclaim what was lost. To protect from the onslaughts early in the first century, the Great King Sanlor Varhul, delved deep into the forgotten Varhul treasury. His forefathers had collected many magic items before the Great Sacrifice, but because of the preceeding mind blank, King Sanlor did not know what he would find.
  One item stood out in a sea of powerful equipment, a fiery red crystal that pulsed when he approached. He grabbed the crystal and rushed to the defense. In battle, King Sanlor held the crystal high in the air. The crystal pulsed, instantly draining the life force from all living creatures within range. His enemies fell, his allies fell, and the crystal grew bright. He knew then the red crystals name - Malakoth.
  Captains fighting nearby pleaded with King Sanlor to destroy the terrible artifact. As their cries fell on deaf ears, he scoffed and waded into the battlefield, feeding all to the crystal. Ma, Parasite of Prayer took notice on this day, the last day the capital city Kaius stood proud. Now it is but a scab in the Haunted Lands. Filled with the empire's endless treasure and engulfed in full view of Ma and her champion, King Sanlor Varhul, the Shackled King.
Alternative Name(s)
Varhul Empire
Type
Badlands
Inhabiting Species

Corrupted Lands

Optional Rule: Death
When in the Haunted Lands, any Player or NPC that dies will be reanimated as a zombie or skeleton at sunset. If it is already night when the death occurs, reanimation will not begin until the following sunset. If the reanimated corpse is slain, it will reanimate again on the following sunset and continue to do so until the corpse is burned to ash. Anyone reanimated will continuously look to feed on the living and cannot be reasoned by normal or magical means. Use the standard 5E skeleton or zombie stat block for reanimated Players and NPCs.

Optional Rule: Pestilence
When taking a short rest while in the Haunted Lands, you may not spend hit dice to regain health.

Further Reading

 
Minotaur
Species | Jul 5, 2022

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