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The Great Chasm? It’s as much a monster as the creatures that live in its depths.
The Great Chasm. A canyon of majestic mystery that runs from north to south across the Planus Continent. Filled with howling winds and constant mists, this location is home to ancient history, creatures, and an unforgiving hellscape. This yawning maw, a scar on the world, has swallowed more than one explorer since its destructive birth.
A Local Legend
Even though it’s one of Awldor’s greatest natural wonders, it wasn’t until the voyages of Captain Amaya Pneuma that the world learned of the canyon. In her journals, she recounts conversations with local guides during her visit to the Planus Continent. A kobold scout, only referred to as ‘Liu’, explained about the Great Chasm, its rumored origin, and the unique monstrosities that call the place home.
It is like one great scar that runs from the north down to the south as far as the eye can see. A wound in the world that will never heal.
Captain Pneuma wasn’t able to spare the time or resources to travel that far inland on the Planus Continent to view the canyon. It was her journals and notes that inspired others from the Archivists Guild to the Windtracer Company and several independent explorers to seek the chasm. But locals, such as the settlers from the Belari river region and especially settlements such as Talabrae’s Deep, the Great Chasm and the mystery of its origin has been a fixture in their lives for generations.
Born in Mystery and Fire
No one knows how the Great Chasm came about. A few records which date back to the time of the Ancient Order reference a canyon in the same region. But to the Ancient Order, this was only a small canyon worn down by natural erosion from the rainy seasons and the Planus constant winds.
The most detailed account of the canyon’s possible origin exists with the Slate Watch Order in the Obsidian Armory Library at Talabrae’s Deep. These records are documents from the lost dwarven and dark elven empires of the Deeplands in the years following the Great Collapse. They’re what little the refugees could bring with them when the wild magic horrors of the Deeplands overwhelmed those kingdoms.
According to those accounts, wild magic storms of the Great Collapse had laid waste to the Ancient Order and the surface of Awldor. Those storms, along with the unknown source of the Ancient Crater to the northeast of the Great Chasm, fueled a destructive force that tried to rip the Planus Continent apart.
The attempt failed for reasons the refugees never discovered, but in their mind, the Great Chasm is the wound left behind from the attempt. A tangible reminder of the danger wild magic, or uncontrolled magic, presents. To Talabreans, the force that created the Great Chasm is what unleashed magically mutated horrors on their ancestors, and still threatens them today.
Most of that ? It’s just a legend. But there is some shred of truth...
Much of this canyon has yet to be explored and measured. What has been measured, such as near settlements like Talabrae’s Deep, shows that parts of the canyon are as deep as the tallest mountain ranges on Awldor.
Despite weather and age, the canyon’s edge remains sharp and rocky, as if something had recently ripped apart the ground. Natural tunnels, remains of ancient lava flows that possibly ran through the canyon at its birth, dot the region. These contain rich mineral veins exposed on the surface. Today, miners use those tunnels as ready-made mine shaft entrances to reach those mineral deposits.
Mountains frame the canyon at the far north end. To the south? Grasslands, a few marshes, and the Morinnear Sea on the eastern side. In the broad, middle region, rolling hills spread out on either side of the canyon to the rest of Planus. They eventually blend in with the impossibly flat and wide prairie that is the main landscape of the continent. Unlike the desolate terrain of the canyon, the surrounding hills are the opposite. They are a rolling carpet of lush grassland and rich soil.
Evidence the legends from Talabrae’s Deep might be true, lie here in the exposed rock. Rock layers from across the centuries line the broken stone canyon walls. Wind, rain, and one of the few waterfalls along the canyon have worn down the surface. But at the lower depths, a residue of wild magic plays along exposed rock, like the afterglow from a forgotten spell.
The effect of that wild magic residue displays itself through the desolate, unquiet terrain in the canyon’s depths. This is one of the most unforgiving and dangerous environments on Awldor. Those that have survived the canyon describe an otherworldly, even hellish, environment.
Constant, howling winds move through the canyon day and night, with night being when they’re strongest. Mist fills the depths of the region, like a thick cloud bank. Clammy and cold, it moves with the wind and will cut visibility to only a few paces without warning. Windtracer expeditions that have survived the canyon describe the mist as if it haunts the canyon. They’ve recorded where parts of the mist would form knots and follow a person, sometimes for days. When that happens, the howling winds grow a few degrees colder.
But the mist seems to play a key role in the environment. It maintains the temperature at the lower depths, providing a regular climate for what few living creatures call the location home.
Fauna & Flora
The Great Chasm isn’t known for an abundance of life. Most reports describe possible hauntings by the canyon’s mists, or unexpected attacks by undead that roam the Ancient Order ruins at the bottom. But, despite the hellscape of the canyon’s depths, there are a few slight pockets of life. It simply isn’t life as anyone might recognize it, nor is it friendly.
The most recognizable creatures are the displacer bats, crows, stone Rattlesnakes, sand feather vultures. At higher elevations, an occasional bobcat, sand jackal or rock rabbit are found. But the more deadly threats? They lie only along the bottom.
At the floor of the Great Chasm, roam abominations, and shambling undead. Many abominations are animals long twisted from wild magic storms that scour the region. Others are nightmares that have crawled up from the underground Deeplands realm, the most typical would be the deadly mimic tree.
The undead take many forms. Mold skeletons, bone crabs, are the most common. But there are stories of even worse creatures, angry trapped souls of the Collapse, looking for release from this realm.
Captain Pneuma’s journals didn’t describe any mining, but the local guides did hint at precious metals. But this wasn’t something her expedition could confirm.
It wasn’t until Windtracer Company explorers reached the area and its lone settlements that the rumor was confirmed. At places like Talabrae’s Deep and others copper, silver, iron, and the ever present briskstone are mined.
Along the canyon’s upper edge, the rich rolling hills provide a good foundation for trees and crops. In caves, the giant Bitter Fog Dire-Tubaria mushrooms thrive in the wild magic tainted soil, providing wood for those few settlements there.
Great Scar, The Wailing Gorge, The Widening Divide
Haunted Canyon, Hungry Depths
The Great Chasm has yet to be fully mapped or explored. This is because of many reasons from the dangerous terrain, aggressive wildlife, and ever present threat of an undead menace. But there are other, less known, reasons.
Even today, the canyon is still slowing growing. A series of majestic waterfalls cascade down from the Ancient Crater to the north into a river that runs the length of the Great Chasm. It could be because of this river that the canyon seems to grow deeper, wider, and even creep toward the lush Anestri’for rainforest in the far south.
Windtracer Company expeditions have described deep crevasses along parts of the canyon floor. Some which lead directly into the underground world of the Deeplands. Others? They seem to be bottomless.
Lorekeeper NotesThe more I hear about this place, the more I'm both fascinated and horrified. - Lorekeeper Gwelunis Istril Indeed. But what Windtracers like Tela have found there? It's worth the risk. I still believe some of the greatest secrets of the Ancient Order lie waiting down there to be found. - Lorekeeper Ihodis Jenro I found lots of rocks. Oh, and that adorable mimic tree! - Lorekeeper Rudigar Brockhouse Adorable? It tried to kill you! - Lorekeeper Gwelunis I believe it's still trying ever since you brought it back here to Ishnanor. - Lorekeeper Ihodis What Fred? Yes! He's just so friendly! - Lorekeeper Rudigar
The Archivists Guild ArchivesFor more Archivists Guild lore, discovery, and Archivist commentary check out The Great Chasm and more by Starfarertheta! Awldor is a sibling world that gives a different look at Awldor through the eyes of the Archivists Guild. Such as, in this case...
The Great Chasm
Geographic Location | Nov 23, 2020
Some say that it is the greatest canyon in all of Awldor. It could be the strangest too.