Hinterland Swamp Geographic Location in The Sundered Worlds | World Anvil
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Hinterland Swamp

A place of mud and memory

Primal magic soaked in muddy water, tree roots that tap into time itself, and inscrutable shrines to murky powers are all hallmarks of the Hinterland Swamp. These wetlands are one birthplace of the first krokons and hold one of the only clues to their supposed creator deity. Elemental forces vie for dominance, and the wardens of the Zekken Preserve work tirelessly to maintain the balance and prevent the calamity only the shrines remember.

What Lurks Below the Surface

Despite being in the rain shadow of the Tels, the swamp is one of the largest contiguous wetlands on Tangra. Mountain runoff and a complex water table formed by the caverns of the Deep Beneath support a robust ecosystem further defended by the ecological decrees of the Zekken Preserve. While the Swamp isn't as protected as either Ghastlee Valley or Lyra Basin, it still sees fewer blizzards and gentler winters than the Desolation, the Range, and even Varazslem. Most living things are only just equipped to survive the yearly freeze, and the season is a struggle for everything that dwells there.
The Zekke make do with communal furnaces and shared living spaces. Their buildings are a mix of construction and magically altering the growth of trees. As a result, they are often covered in moss and vines, and swamp creatures are known to live in the "walls" and roofs.

Field Guide to the Hinterland Swamp

The Hinterland Swamp is rich in the resources to support a range of woody trees, such as Hinterland willow, red alder, black cottonwood, black ash, white elm, western cedar, and tamarack. Other plant life is abundant, but the most common include clay moss, phantom orchids, muddy lupine, Hinterland baneberries, common cattails, swamp lilies, Hinterland algae, sodden algae, marsh marigold, and rose mallow. The Zekke are known for their smoked and dried herbs, one of their most common exports due to the ease of cultivating torrish pepper and paprika, allspice, muddy basil, capers, dill, fennel, murky mustard, fish mint, licorice, nutmeg, Hinterland sage, wild tarragon, and turmeric in planters of Swamp soil.
The Swamp is also rich in minerals and clay, but resources are tightly controlled by the Preserve and the Zekke gather only what they need. Trade goods are limited, and the Swamp's truest exports are the labor and expertise of those who live there.
The water flow leaves little room for terrestrial animals, but water shrews, mudfishers, Hinterland beavers, sharp-tailed snakes, and greeneater slugs are all found throughout the Swamp. Uniquely, a species of reptilian beaver known as the tyrannosaurus beaver also makes its home within the Swamp alongside the standard Hinterland beavers. The muddy waters hold alligators, western giant salamanders, spotted and red-legged frogs, frogators, western painted turtles, kroko snapping turtles, cutthroat trout, half sculpin, sodden dace, Hinterland freshwater squid, and torrish oysters. Among the trees nest spicebush owls, swamp swallows, Hinterland cormorants, great grey herons, murky cranes, western screech owls, and horned larks. The butterfly enthusiast will find marbled murrelets, grappletails, and great autumn moths.
Because primal, elemental magic is so prominant, wild magic surges are common and threaten the entire ecosystem. While the Zekken Preserve is dedicated to keeping these under control, certain flares are left to their own devices. Much like a controlled burn, wild magic must be given an outlet or it will cause untold damage in the long term. Hydras are not a noteworthy sight, but the wardens will need to eliminate a vicious and rampaging one. Treants disturbed by storms need calmed, and the mud, earth, and water elementals need to stay with their respective elements. Will-o'-wisps have little impact on the environment until they lure travellers into areas that shouldn't be disturbed. The most common source of friction is between the giantkin of the Swamp and the Preserve. Some families or individuals belong to and honor the organization, while others believe themselves above mortal laws.

The Waters of Second Life

The Zekken Preserve exists to protect the Swamp from suffering a fate it has already endured. For reasons unknown, the Swamp as it existed in The Realm That Was was once drained and all its life left to wither. The Sodden Shrines connect the Zekke to the spirit of the wilds and allow them intimate familiarity with its well-being. Among the Zekke, shamans known as skreinvekken live in or near the shrines—as the structure allows—to maximize their connection to the spirit. In turn, they advise their communities on the most effective ways to restore and maintain the Swamp.
Integral to these efforts are the trees. While there is nothing especially magical about most of the trees in the Swamp, the vast majority are older than the Sundering. Their roots can, in practiced rites and ceremonies, confer knowledge and understanding from The Realm That Was. The Preserve guards these rites with tooth and claw.
Wetland / Swamp
Location under
Associated Cultures
The people of the Hinterland Swamp use the Zekke statistics.

The Swamp Traveller

The first stop for any visitor of the Hinterland Swamp should always be the city of Torr. Whether it is the first visit or the five hundredth, the wardens in Torr will always have the most up-to-date rules, regulations, and expectations for moving through the Swamp. The Zekken Preserve acknowledges that the needs of any given ecosystem are dynamic and they do not expect outsiders to know the current ecological demands immediately on their arrival. They do, however, expect those outsiders to perform their due dilligence and avail themselves of the information and guides the Preserve has so paintstakingly provided. The Swamp is one of the only regions in the Mythic Hinterlands not under the protection of the Mythalenairra, and the unheeding traveller will swiftly find themself in a much harsher, much more final justice system.

Trade is strictly regulated, and contracts for doing business with and through the Zekke are rare. The swamp traveller is most often a scholar studying the environment or the pre-Sundering magic of the Sodden Shrines, or an adventurer seeking to uncover the mysteries beneath the murk. In either case, neither the Zekke people nor the Zekken Preserve organization take kindly to anyone disrupting the ecosystems. Permits should be kept on hand, ready to be presented on order from a warden of the Preserve, or as a show of good faith of the traveller's own volition to the communities they encounter. It is important to keep in mind that the wardens serve the Swamp and the Shrines, not a nation or treasure.

Hospitality within the Swamp is limited almost exclusively to Torr as the Zekken settlements strictly regulate their resources. The Swamp traveller will be expected to provide for themself, and the less taken from nature the better. The exception to this rule is invasive species, a complete list of which can always be found from any warden of the Preserve. The wardens have been known to offer rewards for clearly particularly damaging foreign elements.

Cover image: by 1778011 via Pixabay


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