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Northern Idalos has an overall humid continental climate with Saun and Ymiden being warm and humid and cold (sometimes freezing) Cyluses. To the north it grows even colder, with tundra, sub-arctic and polar conditions, and to the south, semi-arid plains become progressively warmer. The Heart of the World, the single largest volcano that towers over the region, contributes to large magma flows that reach a significant outward radius, infusing both toxic conditions close to the crater and fostering nutrient rich soils around the periphery. Only the most well adapted plants and animals survive the conditions on the volcano, while sensitive agricultural species thrive in the nutrient rich soils around Sirothelle.
Iron Shell Bush –
Living at the base of the Heart of the World, the iron shell bush is known for the several nuts that grow on the plant. These are so tough that they cannot be physically broken apart. They will only open up after long exposure within a magma bath or similar which will open the shell. The seeds activate in the heat and can begin to grow. The shell itself can be used as ammunition for slings, a cheaper alternative to using metal. The seeds provide a source of natural adrenalin for a short amount of time but the downside is it acts as a potent hallucinogen.
Naphtha Brush –
The black leaves of the naphtha brush are coated in flammable resins that encourage fire to spread. The leaves are small so as to increase their flammability. The heat resistant seed remain dormant until provided with enough ash and soil to grow and at the right conditions can bloom at an incredible rate. The Aukari use the naphtha brush by crushing and breaking the plant down into a flammable black paste. This burns quicker and longer than pitch.
Two curved fire-resistant shells made of a tough bark like substance is textured to look like a carpet of ash. It survives in the low lying areas around Sirothelle where little plants can survive and few nutrients are present due to the constant volcanic eruptions. The plant relies on unaware animal or humanoid to step upon its camouflaged shell. Special feelers detect the force of the intruder and cause the clam to snap shut. A local numbing toxin is released from the tips of the petals to calm the intruder while it begins to eat the intruder live without it being felt. Clam leaves are intentionally grown in large fields to act as a defensive barrier around Sirothelle, preventing possible invading forces from encircling the city.
Phoenix Flower -
Surviving at high elevations on the Heart of the World, the Pheonix Flower is a barbed bush with a single yellow flower that curls in a spiral. These do very well in low nutrient soils, making it adapt well to areas that have just experienced recent eruptions. The phoenix flower relies on constant volcanic eruptions to spread out its seeds. It easily disintegrates into ashes as the flowing magma draws near and flows about into the air for extended periods of time. The seeds are structured so that they float with rising heat emanating from the lava. The ashes soon fall and pepper the fertile ash bed sitting on the cooling lava. The seeds will then rise again into another Phoenix Flower.
Ignis Beans thrive well at the areas around Sirothelle. Highly rich in protein, they are one of the few alternatives to the meat-eating diet that the Aukari are accustomed to.
These yellow and black amphibians thrive in extremely hot parts of the volcano, either next to geysers or even in the lava itself. Contact with cold water will mark its end. Their body is coated in a poisonous milky substance that ensures it is completely fire proof and for this reason, golden salamanders are prized among the Aukari. The flipside is if the substance has contact with the body of an Aukari or any other organism, it will cause the infected area to slowly burn away. Golden salamanders are bred in large blast furnaces and are then killed and skinned but the process is difficult, costly and very dangerous. The milky substance is then used to coat objects to ensure they are well fireproofed. The substance is left to dry and the poison evaporates away. Tampering with the final coat will nullify the fireproof properties of the substance. The Aukari often pay large sums of money to fireproof important objects they wish to protect.
The main carnivore prowling the foot of the Heart of the World, the large obsidian panthers have a shimmering black coat and yellow eyes. The end of the tail of the male panther can exude a fire-like aura used intentionally to attract female mates or unintentionally when leaping for the kill. Prowling up to high altitudes to search for prey and being exposed constantly to toxic gases and ash, the panther has developed a highly efficient body system and uses little oxygen. At lower altitudes with oxygen rich environments, it is a tireless and quick predator.
Located around Sirothelle, these three feet long grey colored caterpillars spend a short period of time eating anything they set their sights on from plants to animals – nothing can survive the onslaught of the Voracious Caterpillar. The pupation stage takes longer. The caterpillar creates a mesh-like cocoon to look similar to volcanic rock, in order to be concealed from predators. The siphon butterfly emerges from the cocoon.
These large two foot high butterflies emerge from the voracious caterpillars. These are black with two yellow ‘eyes’ lined in white on each wing. At night time, the yellow eyes are phosphorescent and can be seen from miles away. This is an attempt to lure potential predators towards it. The butterfly’s wings are razor sharp and several ‘flutters’ can dash their bodies to pieces. The butterfly uses a retractable tube from the end of its abdomen to siphon the blood from the open wounds. The Aukari use the thin wings of the butterfly for the cutting of cloth and other minor things – it is far too fragile for conventional weaponry.
- These extremophiles live in boiling hot sulphur mud baths. They survive this by using multiple vents in their back to exhaust heat and gases. They spit acid from their mouths to burn their victims. They bite is powerful enough to pull their victims into the boiling hot pool for the kill. The blood from this crocodile has excellent healing properties.
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I have been speaking to Basilisk about this island and looked at ways of 'roughing up' the seas north of Ivorian with some nasty sea fauna.
A mountain range behind Ivorian divides the island into two climactic zones.
The east, occupied by Ivorian to the north, receives little precipitation due to the hot coastal winds that blow from the Hot Lands. This results in hot Saun periods, where the Cylus periods are mild. Grasses and rocks predominate this area, grazed upon by herbivore beast and occupied by a plethora of reptiles.
The western coast, on the other hand, receives more rainfall from the oceanic conditions and is noticeably greener, with shrubs and trees. The mountain range traps moisture from the west coast from breaching the east coast. The high humidity can cause fog and mist along the western close but it kept in check by the central mountains.
Semi-arid species dominate the east coast providing ample food for roaming herbivores and a hiding place for reptiles.
Located inland in the mountains where trees provide adequate shade, this unassuming mushroom takes the form and color of a dull, grey rock. Instead of its structure being as hard and solid as a rock, it is extremely fragile and soft. It will collapse under a small amount of concentrated weight. It is often the case for small birds to fall into the center of the mushroom and become enveloped in a green sticky glue. The mushroom will digest and use its nutrients to bolster its growth. Ivorian's tend to use sticks to check rocks in case they are the rock mushroom. The glue can be collected and used.
This delicate east coastal succulent occupies areas behind beaches and coastal dunes. Their leaves contain a saline-like sap suitable for reducing infection to wounds and as an antidote for mildly infected snake bites.
Located mainly along the east coast, these old trees grow along the ground with two or three huge trunks that split over time. As these 'split trunks' grow larger, they split again. They can cover large amounts of land. These branches produce a small thorned fruit that contains white flesh and red seeds - called dead fruit - and is enjoyed by the Ivorians.
These trees are located mainly in the mountains and west coast. They are characterized by their trunks that are made of thick creeper-like roots. These huge roots will move if touched. They can form any shape for a temporary amount of time and will slowly bend back to its original form. They are mostly notable in the way they form large curtains that can be cast aside by brushing it with one's hand. The timber can be used for strong building materials and forked sticks to trap snakes, while the heart wood, responsible for the suppleness of the roots, are excellent for bows.
Located on the eastern, warmer side of the island, this bush sheds its leaves during the afternoon and regrows them in the morning. This is all made possible by its extensive root network that 'steals' the nutrients from other plants. The Ivorian's use a metal tube, hammered into the trunk, to allow a resin to drip. It can be mixed with water as an adrenaline shot, though the side effects are that their hair will fall out and will regrow the next day.
- Located along the eastern coast, this enormous gastropod (mollusk) is 4 foot or 1 metre long. It creates a large 4 foot or 1.5m long shell, vied for by only the largest snake hermits. These shells also make fine horns.
- Located also along the eastern coast, these snakes in their largest form occupy large syrinx shells, using it as a defense to protect their fragile lower bodies. They can give a nasty bite but are more likely to hide inside their shell to evade predators.
- Located inland from the eastern coast, this python sports what seems like a round abnormality on its tail. It is used firstly to trap the sun's heat to aid digestion and secondly as a defensive structure against opponents. This snake grows to more than twelve feet long and can bash an opponent to unconsciousness with the shield while it squeezes and suffocates its victim. If the snake is slain, its shield can be cut clear of the snake's body and adapted for use.
- Located on the eastern coast, this long monitor, 7 feet long, has a sail-like fin running along its back. The spines are sharp and help it defend against predators. The lizards tail is long and thin with a flexible end. It is used as a whip, making loud cracking sounds to intimidate enemies and attract mates.
- Located in the mountains of the island and the western coast, this large wolf-like animal, is both very agile and can reach very quick speeds. It has a grey-blue coat with a white mane under its head, peppered with black and sable patches. It had one blue and one brown eye. It hunts in packs of no more than two. It is known also for its intelligence and keen senses. They are one of the few predators who can hunt bronze boar.
- These boars are formidable game for hunters. Residing in the mountains and western coast behind Ivorian, they are noted for their fur and tusks being of the color and consistency of bronze. Arrows and spears easily deflect off from its body. Only a few weak spots allow hunters to kill this game - the underside, the eyes and nose. The bronze boar develops a patina as it ages.
- 'Island dwarfism' is responsible for the tiny rhino that is only 4 feet long. Despite its size, it is solid and packs a punch if it decides to charge. It has thick skin that acts as an armor, protecting it from predators, though this has not prevented it from being killed often. As a result, it is quite rare and only found in the mountains and often ventures to the western coast.
- Domesticated Auroch occupy areas close to Ivorian. The differences with regular cattle is their milk is of distinct flavor thanks to their diet of thyme which cover grazing areas. The other difference is that bulls have two pairs of horns, a pair on either side of its cheek and a pair on its head. Finally they are quite large, some weighing 1500lbs or 700kg.
- These horses are found all over the island around Ivorian in their domesticated form. Prior to domestication, these horses once lived in herds of at least seven where they develop a link of minds. Now domesticated, these horses are ideal for use in chariots - their linked minds making them move in near perfect unison.
Fauna around the seas north of Ivorian
- An ethereal snake that only comes out in misty conditions in the sea around the island. This snake kills by suffocation, using its ability to manipulate air pressure to create a 'squeeze'. They are incredibly slow and can be evaded. They can be killed only by heat.
Rainbow Sea Snake
- This snake is notable for its iridescent scales used to dazzle prey. Incredibly quick in water and armed with a venomous bite, one would need nets and skill to catch these live. The scales fetch a modest price at any market.
- These enormous turtles have a shell that looks similar to a large rock. Swimming in schools, they float about to encourage all kinds of animals to sit on its shell. It will sink into the water and using its razor sharp beak to kill its prey. Schools of these turtles, disguised as rocks, alarm venturing ships. The turtles then herd these ships toward real rocks, causing the ships to be wrecked and the turtles to feast on the survivors.
- These foot long fish swim in schools and enjoy timber as part of their diet. Upon seeing a ship, they will torpedo toward the underside at high speed, teeth agape, creating dents and will eventually breach the hull after some time. They then proceed to feed on the ship itself.
- These enormous bright blue birds are masters of manipulating air currents to cause storms. They typically operate in the seas north of Ivorian. Their aim is to use the storms to round up schools of fish who are influenced by weather patterns and feed on them. This bird is a bane to those who travel by sea.
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Area of Etzos, Rharne, Cahryst, Volanta - The Unabor Forest
In the ancient times of Idalos, an ancient seed called Unabor lay deep below the sea between east and west Idalos. Where this dormant seed came from is unknown but at some point it began to grow. First, it sent out four tendril-like roots in all directions, so that it would find dry land. These roots divided over and over to become millions of searching 'fingers' that expanded outward in a growing circle.
Soon the Unabor, sensing the limit of its power, ceased the tendrils for expanding any further. The tendrils were raised to come forth from the soils and up to the skies into many trees, some of which grey on Western Idalos and the rest on Eastern Idalos. This is how the Forest of Unabor came to be.
The effort to create the vast, multi-continental forest was more than the Unibor could bear. It gathered its remaining strength to creating five entities to govern the forest independently. These became known as the Five Hearts of Unabor. Ywyngyll the Old, Scyn the Intolerant, Eurin the Resolute, Maguon the Benevolent and finally, Lorne the Pioneer.
The Forest of Unabor is not a typical forest. The roots of the trees are connected in some way back to one entity. Many have tried to trace the roots back to its source, deep below the sea, and have failed and so the location of Unabor is unknown.
Unabor treats all of its trees as children, nurturing and protecting them. The Unabor will often move the forest about, although this is not exactly accurate in what it does. It will partially transfer some of the trees energy, leading them to wither, known as ‘dieback’, while providing other trees energy to grow. This transformation can be slow or rapid. The trees often grow rapidly to seek better water sources, to evade fire, to block and even kill anything that provides great threat to the forest. The Unabor will not tolerate large areas being cut down, but will allow modest amounts. Some races have a special treaty where the forest has been provided with diverted rivers, in exchange for its wood.
A large band of similar climactic conditions occur a Etzos, Rharne and Cahryst and many miles in all directions. These areas have four distinct seasons, from mild summers, a colourful autumn, a cool but not freezing winter and a warm, busy spring. Ocean winds through the middle of Idalos are a factor in influencing this climate.
Unabor controls all plants and can influence the habits of the creatures that dwell in its forests. Coniferous forests dominate the northern areas of the Unabor where it snows often, while more temperate evergreen and deciduous forests comprising of oak, maple and lime trees grow in the central and southern areas of the forest. Small patches of grasslands do find their way where the Unabor tree line has receded due to dieback.
The Five Hearts of Unabor:
The Unabor itself has little energy to govern the entire forest and thus created the Five Hearts to govern each section of its forest. Each Heart is strong in their own way but they all work to a different beat. These trees are able to move, but do this only when necessary by growing and wilting their branches and roots. These trees contain vast root systems that communicate to the forest in these areas. They each have unique personalities.
1. Ywyngyll (ye-win-gil) the Old:
Located west of Rharne, the Ywyngyll is a yew tree and the oldest of the Five. Her branches are gnarled, knotty and twisted. She grows and withers her branches slowly. She manipulates her branches to ‘groan’ into words to be interpreted by almost any race she chooses to communicate to. She is known for her expansive knowledge and cleverness and as such, she has been trusted by the Unabor with even information from Unabor itself. With so much knowledge, her words are often too cryptic to be easily understood and on top of that, she is often unwilling to help those on their quests – for their short lives seem pointless to her.
2. Scyn (Sine) the Intolerant:
Located between Cahyrst and Korlasir, the Scyn is an ancient sequoia of enormous proportions. Unlike the other Hearts, this tree rarely moves. This has meant that it has concentrated most of its energy to becoming larger and its roots stronger and more concentrated, allowing it to be the most adept at manipulating the growth and dieback of its forests. The Scyn is obsessed with the protection and expansion of the Unabor forest. It does not like any creatures, nor does it try to ‘talk’ to them, like the other trees. Thus no living thing lives many miles from its base and most of the plants in this dark forest will kill any creature that enters. It sees all non-plant like life as being parasitic and is therefore ‘below’ the forest, often at disagreement with the others.
3. Eurin (You-Rin) the Resolute:
The Eurin is an old pine that lives to the north of the Unabor, where most trees are firs, pine and spruce trees. She is simple, strong-willed and a survivor. She is taller than all other conifers and she will move only occasionally. She is known to provide shelter to those that need it in times of freezing snow storms and heal those that are injured. She provides simple advice to passerby’s but not with the same depth as Ywyngyll.
4. Maguon (Ma-Gwon) the Benevolent :
Located south of Cahyrst and Korlasir, this great oak tree is determined to aid and protect the flora and more importantly, the fauna, much to the chagrin of Scyn. Maguon and Scyn are often at conflict and their control of the forests are often in direct opposition. Unlike the dark forest surrounding Scyn, the southern forest protected by Maguon is inviting, with plentiful food and shelter for all creatures. The Maguon is known to bestow its best woods and other important treasures to those that have served to protect the forest from ruin.
5. Lorne (Lorn) the Pioneer:
Lorne is not a tree but a creeping fig. It is the only one of the Five Hearts to occupy Western Idalos during and thus became known as Lorne the Pioneer. Lorne is curious and fascinated with the land beyond the horizon. She has a desire to expand its forests into the unknown, despite the frustration of being held back by Unabor's limited strength. She aids travelers who enter her forests and treasures any of their tales of the lands beyond. However, she is quick to turn on those that significantly harm the forest.
Green and lush, these rootless evergreen plants are the carpet of the forest and what is not known by many – is that it is the ‘skin’ of the Unabor. The Unabor feels the presence of those that walk upon the moss. If the Unabor wishes, it can provide healing to those that lay dying on the moss – but only to those who are worthy to the Unabor. Often, ‘worthiness’ to the Unabor is measured by actively protecting the forest itself.
The forest under Ywnyngyll comprises of mostly yew trees of which are mostly ancient. Their wood is excellent for the crafting of bows due it its supply, elastic properties. These yew trees are all constantly in motion, groaning and creaking as they move.
The forest under Scyn comprises of the Gnarl, a tree that is made of thick, vine like roots that rear up into large trunk and then extend outwards in a thick, impenetrable canopy. Little survives the darkness below…
This sub-species of gnarl trees are specially infused with a heavy dose of magnetic particles from Scyn. These trees, though few in number, have the ability to crush metal. Those that wear metal armor will find a quick death if they enter the forest of Scyn.
Eurin's Fir, Spruce, Cedar and Pine:
These evergreens dominate the forest of Eurin due to their natural protections against freezing temperatures.
Several species of this oak make up the forest of Maguon. The acorn, crushed and consumed give a wide array of positive benefits from healing, to energy boosts, to increases in strength and speed. The timber is excellent for the construction of ships, buildings, furniture and of course, barrels for wine and whiskey.
This sub-species of oak trees are specially infused with magnetic particles by Maguon. Those that attempt to cut it down will find their axe fused to the trunk. The same magnetism is so subtle it can be used to lead metal armored people and their horses off course, often to save their lives.
Lorne's Strangler Fig:
This strangler fig is in fact a tree. It can grow over fifty metres high and relies on winding about other trees trunks to reach the canopy above and beyond. It's dark purple fruit is edible and its bark can be boiled. The steam can cure minor sicknesses like fever and stomach cramps.
White Pulp Fungi:
The white pulp fungi can be enormous. It grows larger and larger until it explodes, spreading millions of spores in all directions. These spores can travel enormous distances however it grows optimally in areas with very little light – ideally below Scyn’s forest.
Living in the darkness of Scyn's forest, this vine uses phosphorescent lights to lure creatures into a tunnel of vines. The Garrote vine suddenly closes, strangling the creature within. It uses anti-coagulants to bleed the creature to be consumed immediately followed by slowly rending the carcass into a fine paste to be consumed over time.
A fairly large, exotic-looking flowering tree, with hundreds of thin, spreading, vine-like branches that are cyclic with different colored flowers that can be pressed for dye. Also, the long, twig-like branches are a natural for weaving, and the tree often weaves spontaneous wall-like obstacles in the wild. This is not done with any aggressive intent. The tree does not "attack" people.
The most common commercially used wood on Idalos. Light in color, resistant to insects and weather, it is the standard for furniture and construction.
As the name indicates, it a tree that provides a pleasantly perfumed wood for most standard interior uses. It not as common as Tanwood, nor as hearty, and costs basically twice as much. Comes in both light and dark color, depending on the region grown. Tends to get darker further north.
Both fragrant and richly grained, this is the premium furniture wood. Also used for highlights and interior molding due to its perpetually polished look. Shavings left over from carpentry are usually boiled and pressed to collect an expensive polishing oil. Mostly found in areas bordering jungles.
Smiling Blue Runner:
located in Lorne's forest, this low, ground cover ivy bears a small, blue fruit. The fruit is edible, but foul tasting. It's primary use is to make a fine dye. People can survive on it, but usually return to civilization with blue teeth.
This tree bears a nut that defines the name. These nuts must not be eaten or cracked before being subjected to pressure steaming. The internal pressure created by this process forces a powerful binder/reagent out through its shell, between the "fingers". Once there is no more fluid to collect on the outer shell, the nut can eaten, or stored for later use. It has a sweet flavor, often used in dessert pastries. If eaten before this process is complete, it can cause many types of clotting or clogging problems in the body.
Scrape Leaf Bramble:
this vine lacks the thorns often found on such growth, but is still unpleasant to pass through. This is due to the abrasive surface of the leaves which grow on it. However, many crafters have found that when dried, these leaves can be used to rub raw surfaces and smooth them down like sandpaper.
Dwelling throughout Unibor's dark forested areas such as Scyn's forest, this slug is one of many large creatures that roam the dark forest. It feeds on moss, fungi and even carrion. If in danger of its being attacked, it will roll in a ball and create an unpleasant smelling acid that coats its body.
Living throughout the Unabor, the legs of these 10 feet long myriapods are razor sharp yellow 'sickles' that cleave the ground and trees as they move. They can also cut apart predators that pose a threat. if killed, the legs can be used for weaponry and tools.
Bird of Riches:
Sighted in Korlasir as well as Etzos, this rare bird has silver and gold metallic feathers that glitter in the sun, a clear diamond-like beak and golden eyes. They live in caves rich with minerals and they feed exclusively on gold. Rarely do they emerge in the forest, but if tracked, one can be led to riches beyond imagining.
Prowling about the Unabor on Western and Eastern Idalos, the Scython is a large cat creature and is often called the King of Unibor. It grows up to 500kg (1102lbs) and is likened to the size of a horse. Its coloring ranges from buff to yellowish, reddish or dark brown. Its teeth consist of two large canine and the rest of its teeth are serrated. They are used to tear away large chunks of its prey in order to bleed them to death. They hunt in packs, preying mainly on unicorn rhinos. An unusual characteristic of these great predators is that they often horde trophies of their prey in their tree hollow lairs, be it from the horns of the unicorn rhino to the armor and weapons of brave warriors.
These large shrub feeding herbivores can reach 7 foot high (2.1m) and 13 feet long (4.0m) and some can weigh up to 1600kg. They dwell in the south eastern and south western forest areas and are known primarily for their straight, foot-long, horn that protrudes from the top of their skull. The horn is extremely sharp and durable - capable of easily driving itself into timber, or the bodies of predators that make the mistake of attacking them. If killed, the horn can be claimed by a difficult and arduous process of separating it from the skull. The effort is worth it though - for the horn can be used for weaponry and armor.
Like a large armadillo, the anvil dwells in tree tops of the northern eastern Idalos and north western Idalos forested areas. It will sit for long periods of time in the tall canopies of a tree and use its keen eyes to spot a victim walking below. Anvils can time their decent perfectly: leaping from the canopy as the victim approaches the drop zone. The anvil rolls in a ball to expose its back made up of overlapping scales that are curved in such a way to absorb the impending collision. The anvil will then strike the victim and often kill it instantly with sheer blunt force. If it misses, the ground may not be able to absorb the impact like its victim and this could kill the anvil. The anvil has teeth that is used to feed upon the victim, consuming huge amounts before lumbering back up the tree.
This elusive horse has been seen throughout the Unibor. It is said that the horse appears to recent heroes and cowards alike after a great test of their will. Those who have crumpled under adversity and mount this horse will sink into it and the cloak will wrap about and suffocate the rider to death. But those that are indeed worthy, whom have fought hard, are served loyally by this horse 'til death. The destiar is known for its glowing white, wispy mane and tail; and its ethereal 'cloak', shrouding its bodies and covering its eyes. The blindfold does not seem to inhibit the horse's vision but is said to aid the horse's impartiality when judging. The shroud acts like wings that flutters about when it runs and also reduce its weight, allowing it to gallop at great speeds.
The mornis is an enormous flightless bird at 10 feet tall and weights up to half a tonne. It roams about most of the southern, eastern and central Unabor forests. It has a powerful beak that can easily snap branches from tree tops to access fruits. Its beak as well as its sharp claws can be used to ward away any predators that attack it. The feathers of this bird are thin with an ochraceous brown color. If collected, these can be used to make fine quills.
The Tropical Rainforests and Jungles of Idalos
The tropical rainforest of Idalos consist of the area around Rhakros, the southern tip of Western Idalos, the area around Athart, the southern tip of Eastern Idalos, and the many islands nearby that share this climate biome. Millions of species occur in this small area with diversity unequaled by anywhere else in Idalos. Only a few notable species will be discussed here.
The tropical rainforests of equatorial Idalos can be summarized in two words: hot and wet. There is no dry season – or any week that does not have rainfall. There is no distinct Saun or Cylus period. Temperatures and precipitation are constantly high. Mist is prevalent during the mornings with more than half of the evaporated water used for precipitation.
These tropical areas consist of:
- Rainforest: This section of tropical rainforest is dominated by enormous evergreen, broadleaf trees. These consist of a tall emergent trees, a dense canopy, a loose understory where many animals make home and a dark rainforest floor, where only fungi and insects dwell.
- Jungle: Occurring at the borders of rainforest and along riverbeds, jungle is an impenetrable wall of tangled vegetation that must be cut away to pass through.
- Blackwater Swamps: Large pools of stagnant water form from constant rain to become swamps. The mixture of dead foliage that does not fully decompose in the saturated water leads to a thick mud. Walking through these swamps is treacherous, with some pockets having similar properties to quicksand.
Sky reachers are tall emergent trees with wide umbrella-like canopies, buttressed by large spines that protrude from the trunk. Pendulous pods droop from the ends of branches and will regularly burst open to reveal white flowers. Their leaves are broad-shaped, taking most of the light and leaving little to the forest below.
There are many species of trees in the rainforest, but seldom are the same species found close together. They are responsible for absorbing most light for the rainforest.
Thousands of species of vines, such as the strangler tree, begin as small shrubs, sending out tentrils to grab small saplings. When the sapling begins to grow into a tree, they rise upward together, exposing the vine to light. Cutting these vines at an angle, as high as possible, to obtain fresh, sweet water.
Originally found in jungle areas, it is adaptable to temperate forest zones. A few cuttings were brought north by Cauldron members, due to its chemistry applications. The leaves have tiny filaments that can be used to filter out desired elements from steam. When a resource is boiled, if the steam is passed through a mass of these filaments, they absorb only the water, leaving a largely undiluted source of whatever material was being gleaned from the steam. Progress has to be carefully monitored, however, as the filaments expand with absorption and will soon clog the passage, preventing further collection.
These tall canopy tree grow to tall heights to match the sky reacher. In order to reach the canopy, these trees begin their life, fused to a sky reacher. Thin roots intertwine around the sky reacher trunk toward the ground to leach nutrients from the sky reacher’s soil. The trunk is squeezed and the flow of nutrients intended for the sky reacher is taken by the strangler tree. Eventually the host tree dies and the strangler tree, now mature, stands on its own. Only a hollow centre remains of the dead sky reacher. The strangler bears a sweet yellow fruit and is depended on by many animals.
Located in the northern parts of the continent, this is a tree with many similarities to a Madrona tree; trunks that do not stay straight for long before either branching into multiple directions or winding into random twists, smooth bark that peels with no effort, leaves that start flat, but roll up like cigars. But is not the snaking character of the branches that gives the tree its name. it is the fruit which grows at points where branches or trunks break into three or more separate arms.
These are the spots where the flower buds grow. Naturally, there are more in the upper portion of the tree than below, but there are usually several coils of fruit available within easy reach of the ground. And the tree is usually quite easy to climb as well.
The fruit grows long, and winds about the branch or trunk, much like a snake, as it ripens. There are also real snakes to watch for, that often lurk among the coils of fruit, but they are not that difficult to tell from the fruit. They are not nearly so short and thick, and have that scaly look. But by the time inexperienced pickers mark the difference, they are already within striking difference of the reptile.
The fruit itself is quite nutritious, providing both vitamins and fiber. The skin is easily peeled, coming off in segments, and is fleshy with a natural dye medium that can be squeezed out. There is then a layer of long, entwined hairs that are used to weave silk by Athartian artisans.
Growing in patches, this rapid growing grass provides shelter for animals. Their trunk is wider than a normal sized bamboo shoot – being half a foot in diameter and fifty feet high. Split open, some chambers contain fresh water, and others contain an edible pulp similar to coconut flesh. They can be cut into strands and used for shelters, traps and spears.
Fresh, parasite free water can be obtained from the flowers of these shrubs, shaped like cups with a distinct handle. These catch rainwater and infuse it with a bacteria-killing, sweet nectar that attracts insects. The slippery sides of the flower cause insects to fall in for the plant to consume.
A fairly large, exotic-looking flowering tree, with hundreds of thin, spreading, vine-like branches that are cyclic with different colored flowers that can be pressed for dye. Also, the long, twig-like branches are a natural for weaving, and the tree often weaves spontaneous wall-like obstacles in the wild. This is not done with any aggressive intent. The tree does not "attack" people.
Fungi have an important role in the rainforest by breaking down plant matter on the forest floor. Though some fungi are edible, it is unwise to consume any fungi as it is far too difficult to discern which fungi are safe to eat. Some species of fungi are so deadly that they can kill in minutes.
Characterized by their mournful eyes and gaping mouth that are part of the cap structure, these mushrooms blanket entire rainforest floors. Ghost mushrooms contribute to the decay of the forest floor whether it be plant and animal matter. They are poisonous if eaten.
The bane of the rainforest – parasites such as mosquitoes, ticks, lice, spread a multitude of disease from which one is advised to do all that is possible to protect oneself from.
These large leaches have the ability to latch onto their victims without it being felt. They also employ camouflage to continue to remain undetected. The leach waits on branches and leaves in swampy areas, attaching itself to a victim to suck their blood. Its saliva has anesthetic properties. Removing the leach before it has finished feeding can cause infection.
Larger than a hare, these rats drool white mucus heavily at the mouth, are carriers of several diseases, including rabies. They often live in the thick jungle and swamp areas. They are prone to biting in self-defense, transferring a multitude of life threatening diseases – so beware!
These enormous herbivores live at the blackwater swamps and grow up to 3 metres tall at the shoulder and five metres in length and can weigh up to 6000kg. Two thick horns rise above the nose and two smaller horns below the jaw are used for protection from predators. Their skin is made up of thick armor like skin for further protection.
This slimy eel lurks in the swamps and are large in size, growing up to fifty feet long. It feeds upon young king crocodiles and can even attempt a young therion. When they bite, a second set of teeth in their mouth are used to secure and then draw the prey into the mouth. Finally, their hundreds of teeth contain a toxin that infuses a relaxant into the victim before swallowing the prey whole.
These small owls live in the dark undergrowth of the rainforest. They have phosphorescent feathers that light up entire areas. One feather collected can light a campsite or a room for a few weeks before beginning to dim. They are difficult at being caught due to their quick reflexes. However, their feathers fall from their wings often and it is commonplace to find them on the rainforest floor.
These bright green snakes live at the tops of tree canopies. Projecting itself from a branch, they are able to spread itself flat and glide along the air. It can maneuver itself to fall upon monkeys and other animals, rapidly coiling themselves around and squeezing the victim to death.
This large ocelot has the ability to leap upon prey faster than the eye can register. A loud cracking thunder resounds from the movement, followed by a cloud of air, all caused by the breaking of the sound barrier. This final movement spanning only a few meters, takes so much effort from the ocelot, that the creature can barely hobble let alone climb a tree afterward. The bite of this ocelot, due to the speed of its attack, is precisely aimed to the skull of the victim. It is so powerful that its teeth can penetrate the skull and deliver a fatal wound to the brain.
These crocodiles mostly dwell in swamp areas. They can grow to 29 feet (9 metres) long. It has thick armor plates over its body, a very large head with rows of large teeth. They are capable of explosive speed in the water and almost as fast on land. Their sharp teeth are suited at seizing and gripping, dragging victims into water to drown. Death rolling is used to tear the prey into pieces small enough to be swallowed whole. Their bite has more force than even the thunder ocelot and can crush a therion skull between its jaws.
There are hundreds of different species of monkey and most of live in the forest canopy. They range from a few inches in length to several metres – the infamous Gorn.
Almost ten feet high (3 metres) and weighing up to 1200 pounds (540kg), the Gorn is a large ape that walks on all fours and feeds upon mostly bamboo. They are large enough to keep the thunder jaguar in check, though their young are vulnerable. They have long brown hair, though there is a low percentage strain of white morph.
Southern Idalos experience a wide range of climates ranging from sub-tropical climate on the north, central continental climates in middle and tundra, sub-polar and polar climates to the south. Mountain ranges somewhat shield the rest of the continent from the south pole's wintry embrace. Although despite this, the continental center often experiences below freezing Cylus. The northern fringes of the continent find pockets of sub-tropical zones characterized hot humid summers and mild to cool winters. Throughout the continent, micro climates, caused by ocean winds, do some work too to keep hot summers warm, and cold winters cool.
Ara the Lake Spirit
There is a lake in Southern Idalos that is revered by the Sevry’n. Around the perimeter of the lake, the willow trees, “Suil”, dip their branches into the waters like a wall of leaves and branches. Certain sections of this leafy wall are open, like doors to the lake, allowing one to enter.
The lake is ordinary in size. However, its depth is not only unmatched, but it is believed, to be bottomless. Measurements were taken by Vlarn Moragan, an Eidisi, who in pursuit of knowledge of the far reaches of Idalos, was fascinated by the composition of the lake. A ring of lead was secured to a rope and lowered into the lake until they had reached the end of the full mile of rope without having touched the bottom. When the experiment was recommenced once further rope was obtained, the fifteen miles reached the same result. Dividing the rope into three thinner parts was done to produce a forty five mile rope and still, the bottom was not reached. Having exhausted all resources, Vlarn spent the rest of his coin on a ship back to Viden, empty handed and spent the rest of his days organizing a further expedition, until he was bankrupt and died a pauper. Further attempts lead to the same result and it was thus concluded that the lake was of depth infinium or so deep as to be frivolous to measure.
Perhaps they were all deceived. For the lake was not ordinary. The Sevry’n believed that the lake was a spirit, named Ara. To outsiders, Ara is shrouded in mystery, often scoffed at by the ignorant, mused at by the wise. The curtain of the willows slide open for the worthy, closed for the unworthy. Giant lilies glide over the glassy surface to transport Sevry’n groups. Water will lap in contentment, bubble in irritation, and explode in fountains of anger. Yet, little more than the odd occurrence here and there elude to the existence of Ara – the spirit of the Lake. Yet, to the Sevry’n there is no doubt to her existence.
The Sevry’n are the caretakers of the lake. It was a responsibility that was not given to them, but rose out of necessity. The lake is the lifeblood of all of the land that the Sevry’n live on. An entire ecosystem hinges on the water that the lake provides and the Sevry’n are acutely aware that in the event the lake dries up, the tower of which plants and creatures balance, will tumble down to meet a quick end.
This type of willow tree occurs nearby Lake Ara. The tree droops its branches and leaves into the lakes and some can grow many meters into the water. The trees act as the lake's ‘fortifications’, providing a thick wall to prevent any who are not worthy to approach the lake. The leaves will part to make openings. The branches and leaves are so extremely elastic that cutting is almost impossible. The branches that are separated often meld together if left next to each other, or divide to grow into two trees. These trees are difficult to burn. No use has been found with these sacred trees.
These lilies are unusually enormous ranging from mere feet to forty feet in diameter. The edges of the lilies are folded up to allow the weight of several creatures, or Sevry’n, to walk and sit on the leaf as it floats about the lake. The stem of the lilly, runs deep into the water and thought to be connected, ultimately to Ara herself.
This grass cover the majority of dormant volcanos that string along the bottom of Southern Idalos. They are able to withstand the freezing winds. A variety of herbivores rely on this grass for sustenance.
Planted in warmer climates, this tree can grow to magnificent sizes – but in its native southern alpine environment, this tree’s grows to the size of a small shrub. Many of these trees have lived for thousands of years. The stunted beech provides wood of high density. However axes easily blunt in cutting it down and the wood is very difficult to work. Very fine weapons and tools can be made from this wood.
This plant can cover many square miles of snow capped volcanos with its woolen cushion like appearance. Its shape protects itself from the weight of snow and the worst of the winds by growing close to the ground. The very light grey color enables it to reflect the sun’s rays during the hot seasons.
The Mud Grinder:
There is a strange creature in the mud pits of those areas of volcanic activity found on the southern continent of Idalos. Those of extensive and mystic learning have pondered the possibility that it could be related to the entity known as the "Crush Vine Strangler" found only in the Misty Miasma. or that these Stranglers were, originally a "Mud Grinder". This is because it, like the Strangler, seems to be both a plant and an animal.
In spots on the edge of a mud pit containing a "Grinder", there will be a stout bush, formed partially of sturdy tendrils of wood akin to a Vine Maple. When a person gets close enough to the edge, the vines will push him into the pit. Not only is submersion in hot mud a horrifying prospect, but even worse is the sudden muddy whirlpool that opens under the teetering victim. The poor fellow falls in and the whirlpool closes up on him and he is never seen again; although his clothes could be found floating on the surface of the mud pit after twenty or thirty trials.
The term "Grinder" comes from the manner in which the meal must be pulverized by grout in the creatures gut, much like the system many birds employ. This grout is, of course, the mud that accompanies the victim into the creatures maw, which is used to grind the victim up for easier digestion. It is believed that the submerged portion of this animal is like a large constrictor, yet far wider and shorter. What it unknown is whether the plant that aids it is actually a part of the thing, or if it receives some kind of impulse signal to spring out and slam into the victim to send him in.
There is clearly some sort of symbiotic relationship, because the digesting remains appear to greatly nourish the plant as well as the beast. There has also been a rise in the belief that the adrenaline fueling drug gained from these same mud pits, at certain times, may somehow be a result of the heart-racing panic of the many victims, infused into the mud which is regurgitated, time and again, back into the pit afterwards.
There is bulbous feature of a certain type of kelp in southern waters that is a marker for both potential salvation or death. It is called the "Salt Buoy" because its primary feature is a natural filtration in its flesh that pulls the harmful salt from the surrounding water, leaving the bulb full of fresh water. A secondary benefit is that the flesh can then be dried and processed to extract these high levels of salt for its many beneficial uses. Both of these elements have been needed frequently on extended sea voyages and some diversions off course have been to obtain a "flotilla" of these marine plants.
The reason for possible danger is that some tribes of Mer have realized that humans frequently seek this item out while sailing the seas; and there have been a growing number of tales of traps, ambushes and poisonings related to this species of kelp. Now, of course, sailors have a knack for exaggeration, and many people in dire castaway situations hope for the best when sighting floating objects. But there was one reliably documented case of such a man paddling towards what he believed was a flotilla, only to find that it was human heads.
The abundance of nutrients, the absence of herbivores, the humid climate and cool temperatures has led to the evolution of this large ‘megaherb’ which is endemic to the northern areas of Southern Idalos.
A white gilled and white spotted on deep red cap offers a supply of entheogens, a hallucinogenic substance, useful for shamanic purposes. These are predominant in the central areas of the continent.
Large fish that are native to Ara. These fish grow up to thirty feet long and are seen to swim about the lilies. They do not let themselves be caught, diving deep into the lake and so they are not eaten. Their relationship to the lake and surrounding area is unknown.
The Shark Scout:
Southern waters are full of hazards, some exotic, some humanoid, some common. One of the common hazards is sharks. One of the exotic is a small fish called the Shark Scout. As one can guess, the two types of creatures operate in conjunction with one another. But on any given morning, the scouts will not be near the sharks, as evolution his infused the little spiny fish with an instinctive knowledge that larger fish - or anything else, for that matter - avoid sharks.
What the scouts do is locate a likely target, swim up and jab it a few times with the spines in their fins. The spines contain a toxin that quickly and severely thins the blood. this not only makes the target become a much weaker and slower swimmer, but it also ensures that the target will keep bleeding from the pin-prick wounds, thereby leaving a trail in the water for the sharks to follow to an easy meal.
The scouts are content to wait for the sharks, notoriously sloppy eaters, to leave bits of meat spraying and floating around amid their frenzy, for them to feed on. The sharks themselves also have an evolutionary understanding not to eat the little scout fish. A nice shared feast for all. The toxin in the spines of the Shark Scout are routinely employed as a poison to weaken foes and make their wounds slow to heal. The Naerikk are particularly fond of this tool, and it is one of the first poisons a naer chemist is likely to learn. They call it "Red Tide" and do not generally offer it for sale.
This feline is gifted with a thick coat of tiny, clear, tubular tendrils rather than fur. They catch the light and color of the surrounding flora, rendering the creature nearly invisible if it stays motionless. A good wind will betray its presence if someone is looking for it, as there will be an odd patch of fluttering color that can't otherwise be accounted for.
In every other regard this is like any other jungle cat; carnivorous, territorial, agile and ferocious. Strangely, the hide does not work well or take curing very effectively. It can be made into functional items that do not need to last long; boot laces, belts, pouches and such. But crafters do make good use of the tendrils, shaving them from the hide and working them in countless artistic ways.
They possess no mystic power, or bestow any sort of stealth ability, though a person wearing a coat woven of them could gain a considerable edge in moving unseen. But most frequently, that are woven into personal items to wear as trophies, proof of a skilled hunter. Of course, the teeth serve well in this capacity as well.
Stalking the areas of sub-tropical north of Southern Idalos, this large, flightless bird that stands six foot and five inches (two meters) and sports curved claws and a hooked beak. This bird chases herbivores of various sizes and uses its beak and claw to trip its prey to swipe at the creatures neck.
Seen only fleetingly in the central areas of the continent, this black bird is a master of silence. Even at its large size of four meter wingspan, the features are perfect proportion to minimize friction in the wind and allow the bird to prey at both night and day. Though very difficult to hear and often to see, the bird has successfully been domesticated and ridden. Often it is used for the purposes of entering enemy fortresses and encampments to perform assassinations, sabotage and other forms of tactical espionage.
Vice Jaw: Lumbering its way in the alpine areas of Southern Idalos, this grey haired marsupial is notable for its disproportionately massive jaw. They range from six feet to eight feet (1.8m to 2.4m) from nose to tail and its shoulders are two feet (0.6m) high. The jaw itself is a little under two feet (0.5m) from the back of the jaw to the nose. The jaw operates on several bones that click into place like gears, locking at increments of pressure that is exerted. The vice jaw takes time to slowly clamp its jaws down on something, but if given enough time for the jaws to have purchase on its target, the jaw is capable to crush branches or bone in half. It has even been seen to crush rock. This marsupial is a herbivore and uses its extraordinary jaw to hunt for grubs in Stunted Beech trees.
Potential Mounts - Green
Monsters - Red
To do (non shaded areas):