Sunday, October 8, 2023

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 40

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 40

Compiling week 40 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 posts, this week's subject being a deep dive of a location of interest - the Dismal Marsh and Lotus Delta along the Danthas River of the Wastelands:


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #274 

October 2nd, 2023 

  • Number: 274 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Dismal Marsh and Lotus Delta of Danthas – Part 1 

  • Location: Northeast Wastelands where the Danthas River meets the Sea of Hethichol 

  • Population (approx.): Varies 

  • Brief: The Danthas River, flowing down from the Ulu Maug and bolstered by other sources such as the Red and Saut Rivers, cuts across the continent, defining the border between the City-State of Taodeas and the scattered minor states and peoples of the Wastelands. The river slows as it approaches the Sea of Hethichol, the pastoral foothills to the north forcing the river swirling through the hot and inhospitable Dismal Marsh (which dries out to the south as the land becomes the Mu Onno Desert) and then artfully depositing its sediment in the Lotus Delta (so named for from above the channels resemble the flower). 

  • The traffic upon the Danthas River prefers to stick to central channels, giving the Swamp Queen (#20) her due for the Marshwardens (#87) are ineffective, rather than face the strangers and dangers further south. In contrast, the Lotus Delta is a beautiful place of quiet distributaries threading between grassy scrub-covered islets, the river-dwellers living in huts perched on pillars above the earth proof against spring floods and ocean storms. 

  • Geography: East of where the Saut River joins the great Danthas, the latter becomes wider and sluggish, meandering through an area of dismal marsh that frequently floods from the west after winter and from the east due to ocean storms. There are a small number of relatively high and dry islands rising above the channels of the river. The marsh covers about 70 miles of the course of the Danthas, gradually turning into the delta itself about 20 miles from the Sea of Hethichol. The Dismal Marsh covers over 1500 square miles of lowlands, almost all south of the Danthas, that gradually dries out to become sparse meadows that soon disappear into the Mu Onno Desert. The Lotus Delta is roughly circular covering over 300 square miles with grassy strips of land between the numerous distributaries. There is some debate among local cartographers and magicians as to why, from the air, the pattern of channels through delta appears to duplicate the flower so closely. Some sort of intelligent design but by whom or what is unknown. 

  • Next Article: Over the course of this week, we’ll present some of the notable peoples, happenings and plot threads of six notable sites in the Dismal Marsh and Lotus Delta. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #275 

October 3rd, 2023 

  • Number: 275 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Dismal Marsh and Lotus Delta of Danthas – Part 2 

  • Location: Northeast Wastelands where the Danthas River meets the Sea of Hethichol 

  • Population (approx.): 150 (Rushes in Sun) 

  • Brief: Despite its name, there are some inhabitants of the Dismal Marsh who have found it an acceptable place to live. Along the southern parts of the marsh, where the dry winds from the Mu Onno desert begin to turn mud into sand, there are great swaths of rushes and sedges in clumps around narrow channels of water. Some of the clumps might seem a bit larger than one would expect for they are the cunningly designed mud and straw huts of the native Lizardfolk. They are gathered in tribes, assembled based on Mafalag, a concept of leadership of the one(s) with the most honor and trust of their Kin. They are dangerous and isolated but live relatively quiet lives (unless threatened) worshipping the most basic elemental forms of Aenwyld including, for one tribe, Rushes in Sun, the Light of Malam above. 

  • Thosh, 23, male Lizardfolk, is a Shaman of the Glow Like Rising Sun tribe. He is six and a half feet tall and has lovely moss-green scales. His face and body have honey-brown areas that accent his body. His personality is calm and reassuring, and most of the tribe loves him for this. Thosh wears long robes with the god of light symbol emblazoned on the front. He also has a special ceremonial robe that has embroidery on it. It was a gift from a human friend. Thosh uses a staff covered in runes as a walking stick. 

  • Thosh brought the belief in the Malam the God of Light to the tribe. In his youth, he lived around humans, learned about Light and Dark, and followed Malam the Light. He brought his beliefs back to the tribe and slowly turned them into his thinking. He is a gifted orator and knows that Lizardfolk prefers plain speech. The tribe now acts brightly toward one another but is still wary of outsiders. 

  • Thosh found his mate in Nellev, 20, female Lizardfolk. Their eggs are due to hatch any day. Thosh and Nellev live in one of the larger huts in the Dismal Marsh. The tribe numbers around 150 members and uses what the marsh provides them to survive. Thosh has an acolyte, Ro, 15, male Lizardfolk, who lives with Thosh and Nellev. 

  • Geography: Rushes in Sun (location 3 see below) and the other Lizardfolk tribes of the Dismal Marshes live on a stretch of land south of the southernmost major navigable channel of the Danthas River, also almost directly south of the Swamp Queen’s demense (#20 and location 1). They claim and hunt over an area about 40 miles west to east and up to 15 miles south of the channel. Rushes in Sun is one of the larger tribes, growing due to Thosh’s words, deeds and resultant increased Mafalag. The tribe's homes are earth-sheltered, partially underground 1 or 2 room huts covered by roofs of rushes and sedge. Some are reinforced by stone or wood foraged nearby or traded from locals outside the marshes. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #276 

October 4th, 2023 

  • Number: 276 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Dismal Marsh and Lotus Delta of Danthas – Part 3 

  • Location: Northeast Wastelands where the Danthas River meets the Sea of Hethichol 

  • Population (approx.): 133 (Cold Paws Warrior Tribe) 

  • Brief: The Lizardfolk Tribes rarely war upon each other, preferring to settle disputes through contests of Mafalag, but they are more than happy to scrap with the Hobgoblin Tribes of the drier scrub hills to the east and south. Like the Lizardfolk and others, the Hobgoblins of the Dismal Marsh are not native to the region, having been driven there by force or led there by fate. A warlike folk, the Hobgoblins struggle to carve out a nation of their own for they are creatures of habit seeking heroic victories and thus tending to fight each other and everyone else wherever they live.  

  • Rakarg, 35, male Hobgoblin, is an Animal Trainer for the Cold Paws Warrior Tribe. He is large, muscled, and wears a grim expression. He typically has matted fur on his red-brown skin, and his face is orange. Rakarg has a tattoo of a crude paw on his left arm. He wears leather armor that has bits of chain attached to it. His favorite weapon is a broadsword, but he is out of practice.  

  • Rakarg began working with wargs when he found a stray one near a burnt-out hut. The warg went to bite his hand, and Rakarg tackled it. The two slowly became friends. Rakarg can handle any warg and turn it into a war animal or a pet. He also enjoys working with horses, wolves, and other animals that cross the Hobgoblin's path. One of Rakarg's favorite things is presenting an animal to its new master. The joy of the bond is terrific to see, and it is celebrated in the tribe. 

  • Rakarg lives with his mate, Erebog, 31, female Hobgoblin. She cares for the home and their four children, Glerg, 8; Del, 5; Gac, two; and Ror, six months. They live in a large hut near Erebog's family. The family has too many animals to list here. 

  • Geography: Cold Paws Warrior (see location 4 below) and the other Hobgoblin tribes of the Dismal Marshes live on a stretch of land south of the junction of the marsh channels with the main course of the Danthas River, also almost directly south of the Marshwardens’ fort (#87 and location 2). They claim and hunt over an area about 30 miles west to east and up to 25 miles south of the river. Cold Paws Warrior is a medium-sized tribe relying heavily on Rakarg’s trained animals and monsters to supplement their fighters. They regularly raid outlying areas, especially desert clans to the south, for animals, especially dogs, wolves and horses. The tribe's homes are wooden 1 or 2 room huts covered by roofs of rushes and sedge. Some are reinforced by mud bricks and stone blocks molded or cut from local earth. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #277 

October 5th, 2023 

  • Number: 277 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Dismal Marsh and Lotus Delta of Danthas – Part 4 

  • Location: Northeast Wastelands where the Danthas River meets the Sea of Hethichol 

  • Population (approx.): 314 (Protectors of the Lotus Delta) 

  • Brief: Once through the Dismal Marsh, the Danthas River turns toward the Sea of Hethichol by way of the most unusual, beautiful and magically made construct of the Lotus Delta. In ages long past, some entity (or creator as the local Locathah claim) or force reconstructed the existing distributaries into a series of curves and arcs leading to the sea. Only from the skies above does one realize the waterways of the delta have been arranged in the form of a lotus flower pointing to the northeast. The reason, need or desire for this epic endeavor is lost to time, but its creator desired it to be permanent and placed a community of Locathah in the waters just offshore to maintain and protect the 300 square mile river delta. In the present day, the tribes of Locathah continue to maintain the waterways with established relationships with the inhabitants of the islands of the delta and the local authorities of Taodeas represented by the Sailors and Travellers Guilds. 

  • Hulan, 35, male Locathah, is a Protector of the Lotus Delta. He is of average height and has a robust build. His face and body are primarily gray, with the occasional hint of yellow accenting an area. He wears scraps of specially treated leather armor. Hulan wields a spear and shield. 

  • Hulan is the leader of the Protectors of the Lotus Delta tribe. The tribe believes their special abilities come from a magical being living in the area (under, about or comprising the delta itself). Hulan's job is to keep the site safe from others and to use the magic to help the environment. Hulan has several magical powers that are defensive. The tribe rarely attacks anyone, preferring to negotiate and encourage intruders to move away from the area. 

  • Hulan lives with his mate, Nivut, 31, female Locathah, who leads the hunting group for the tribe. He cares for his niece, Haval, 15, and nephew, Dalin, 12. They live in the largest hut near the tip of the highest Lotus leaf. Haval and Dalin join the hunts with Nivut and are working on their bow and arrow abilities. On festival days, all four of them wear special luminescent paint and chant and sing about the unique properties of the Lotus Delta. 

  • Geography: The Lotus Delta begins east of the Marshwardens base (#87), the curved waterways covering about 15 miles before emptying into the Sea of Hethichol. The Locathah tribe, Protectors of the Lotus Delta, built their settlement (location 5 see below) on the seafloor near the tip of the lotus where the rich sediment of the Danthas spreads across the seabed. Hulan’s grown coral on stone home is closest to shore and its roof, and some others, can be seen below the surface when the tide is at its lowest. The Locathah mark their settlement with tall stone spires, rising near to the surface, to prevent heavily laden ships from hitting buildings. The Sailors Guild has enhanced the markers, with permission, by adding buoys chained to the markers.  

  • Most of the amphibians hunt and fish in the shallows along the coast, but Hulan and his fellow Protectors can be seen in the channels of the delta maintaining the waterways. Unbeknownst to all, even Hulan, there is a concealed tunnel, in the cellar of his home, that leads to a cavern complex under the Lotus Delta. Like its location, its purpose is unknown but is likely related to Hulan’s feeling that there is something living in or under the channels and islands. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #278 

October 6th, 2023 

  • Number: 278 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Dismal Marsh and Lotus Delta of Danthas – Part 5 

  • Location: Northeast Wastelands where the Danthas River meets the Sea of Hethichol 

  • Population (approx.): 4 (The League of the Forgotten Journey) 

  • Brief: Before the marsh became dismal, but well after the Lotus Delta was channeled into existence, an entity, being a dark but lesser “mask” (aspect or version) of Pala and Vai, arrived in the region. This thing, a Wild Growth, settled in the region, diverting parts of the young Danthas River to form a garden of its own liking, being a murky tangle of stagnant water and twisted flora. As the marsh grew and festered, the greater powers of Earth and Water took notice and dispatched “light” counterparts (heroic lesser masks) to the marsh.  

  • They contested the region versus Wild Growth and eventually contained and bound the mask into a solid form (resembling a long thick rod with floral designs) buried in the depths of the earth at a bend of the Danthas River. Pala and Vai influenced their servitor Kin to construct a monastery above the crypt of the Rod of the Marsh. Clerics of both churches worked in harmony watching over the site until Corruption tore apart the Ta’arnan Empire and the monastery was damaged in battle and abandoned. The Rod awoke and called like-minded Kin, to the site, who over the past 5 centuries have attempted to unearth the relic. Finally, about 10 years ago, Kana Sol’s bandits breached the final vaults, and she claimed the Rod of the Marsh, declaring herself the Swamp Queen. 

  • As the Tribes of Taodeas see her as but a simple bandit menace, best placated with coin due to the failure of the Marshwardens to defeat her, the Arcane Guild, sensing a greater threat, has asked the Adventurers Guild to find worthy Companies willing to undertake the quest to claim the Rod. Luric Silverpath, an Adventuring Company leader, believes the Rod or perhaps a related item within the vaults, may be a relic she is seeking. 

  • Luric Silverpath, 37, female High Elf, is a Wizard who leads the adventuring company, The League of the Forgotten Journey. She is short, has an aquiline nose, and a nice smile. Luric has long silver hair that she braids every morning. Her lavender eyes twinkle when she learns a new spell or cantrip. She wears robes with an embroidered picture of a sunset on the back. The robe has many pockets to hold the ingredients to cast spells. Luric wields an oaken wand with intertwined sticks capped off by a bit of silver on each end. 

  • Luric's family has passed down a journal for the past two hundred years. Inside the journal are clues and hints about a rare Elven artifact. After much research, Luric formed the League of the Forgotten Journey, which mirrors the path that Luric thinks the journal writer took. Most adventurers weren't interested in helping a relatively unknown person go on a journey that might end finding a treasure that would become Elven property. Luric’s group comprises unique people from a variety of Kin. 

  • Luric lived with her parents, Farlan, 90, High Elf, and Urira,75, High Elf. She now camps out with the League as they search for the artifact. Her party has Vinzent Rin, 20, a male Human fighter; Mistwyn Stoutpass, 40, male Dwarf, Cleric; and Jayla Cleareyes, 36, female Halfling, Thief. The group gets along reasonably well, and so far, spirits are up. 

  • Geography: The Adventuring Company is currently camped on the north side of the Danthas River (location 7 see below) in a secluded hidden and magically cloaked site about a day’s travel east of Kana Sol’s fortress (#20, location 2). They have been carefully scouting their target, mapping the best approaches, tracking guard movements and looking for wards and traps, both physical and magical. The Queen of the Swamp’s realm covers all the island of the monastery and stretches of the marshes to the south. A fair-sized bandit town has slowly grown about the base of the sharp-sided hill, home to the ancient monastery. Prior bandit leaders and Kana Sol repaired most of the damage, raising the walls and adding battlements and two watch towers overlooking the main course of the river. Below the towers the Queen’s “navy” is concealed from view of anyone upon the river. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #279 

October 7th, 2023 

  • Number: 279 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Dismal Marsh and Lotus Delta of Danthas – Part 6 

  • Location: Northeast Wastelands where the Danthas River meets the Sea of Hethichol 

  • Population (approx.): 47 (Shadow Rat tribe) 

  • Brief: The ancient Dismal Marsh was dismal in name only during the centuries that the priests of the Monastery of the River (now Kana Sol’s demesne) repaired the corrupting influence of Wild Growth. With the schism at the monastery during the fall of the Ta’arnan Empire, the Rod of the Marsh (Wild Growth’s imprisoned form) awoke, and the marsh became dismal once again, attracting ne'er-do-wells such as an unending stream of river bandits and other aggressive tribes of Kin such as the previously introduced Hobgoblins and Lizardfolk. The few settlements of the marshes were ruined, the population driven away mostly heading north into Taodeas. The channels became dangerous for river traffic, ships frequently attacked with some captured and sailed off into the marshes never to be seen again. One such shipwreck, once a large, armored merchant vessel the Peregrine, is now the home to a small tribe of Ratlike Shifters (a Kin with Vybrant blood allowing them to enhance their bestial nature, adopting rat like features and abilities). 

  • Storm, 25, a male Ratlike Shifter, is the leader of the Shadow Rat tribe. He is short and agile. He has jet-black hair and small black eyes. His left cheek has a small scar from the fight that won him the pack's leadership. Storm has a short temper and keeps the group in line with threats. He wears bits and pieces of armor he found along the way. He has a pair of daggers with slots to apply poison to the tips. 

  • Storm is a survivor and attempts to keep the Shadow Rats alive. He thought bringing them to the Dismal Marsh would provide a ready food source. Instead, the group is going hungry almost every day. One of the other Shifters, Cobalt, 30, is attempting to take over. Storm hopes to find a regular source of fish or small game, so he won't have to fight Cobalt. 

  • Storm comes from Blackstone Fortress and learned most survival tricks from his older brother, Ash, 37, a male Ratlike Shifter. When Ash died, Storm gathered his friends and made a play for the leadership of the Half-Hand tribe. He lost, and they were all banished. Ash had heard of the Dismal Swamp from a friend of his family and decided to try and make a home there. 

  • Geography: In its heyday, the Peregrine was a glorious luxury merchant vessel, driven by magical paddle wheels, transporting goods and upper-class sightseers down the Danthas to the beauty of the Lotus Delta. Years ago, during a supernatural storm, bandits boarded the Peregrine, dispatched the guards, put the passengers overboard and sailed off into the marshes. The ship was grounded (location 8 see below) miles from the river, stripped of valuable fittings and left to rot. The wreck, somewhat intact due to superior construction, has been home to many different groups of fauna and Kin prior to the arrival of Storm’s tribe. Both Kana Sol (#20, #278), the Cold Paws Warrior Hobgoblins (#276) and Rushes in Sun Lizardfolk (#275) are aware of the new arrivals but pay little heed to them due to the group’s small size. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #280 

October 8th, 2023 

  • Number: 280 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Dismal Marsh and Lotus Delta of Danthas – Part 7 

  • Location: Northeast Wastelands where the Danthas River meets the Sea of Hethichol 

  • Population (approx.): 233 (Gentle Warg tribe) 

  • Brief: The tribe of Locathah, Protectors of the Lotus Delta, maintain the waterways of the Danthas River delta, with established relationships with the inhabitants of the islands of the delta and the local authorities of Taodeas represented by the Sailors and Travellers Guilds. The Protectors have been very particular about who they’ll permit to settle the usually dry ground formed by the distributaries. The Half-Orcs of the Gentle Warg tribe emigrated to the continent with the larger Steel Talons tribe (#223) in the distant past. Wishing to put their bloody history behind them, the smaller tribe split from their brethren, who remain in Ceannar to this day, and made their way south, through Taodeas, to the north shores of the Lotus Delta. They made contact with the Locathah, offering artwork and objects carved from local native wood in trade. The Protectors were intrigued and sensed they were kindred spirits. After years of barter and interaction, the Locathan offered the Half-Orcs the island at the base of the Lotus to call their own. 

  • Gulod, 25, male Half-Orc,is one of the master woodcarvers for the Gentle Warg tribe. He is very tall and has large biceps from chopping wood. He has curly black hair and dark brown eyes. Gulod has a tattoo of his wife, Gezi, 23, on his back. He wears brown cloth pants and a bright red jerkin. He wields a giant double-edged tree-cutting ax as a weapon when defending his home. 

  • Gulod has a slightly larger than regular hut that houses his workshop. He works there most days, coming from a long line of skilled woodworkers unique to the tribe, producing goods and works that the tribe barters for everything they want or need. Gulod loves to carve the unique metal-like wood found in the Dismal Marsh to the west. The carvings are solid and last for many years. Business has been good, and Gulod is thinking of expanding his workshop. 

  • Gulod and Gezi live in a hut near his workshop. Their only child, Orad, died of an illness when he was three. Gezi cared for Orad, but once he died, she returned to work as a forager for the tribe. They both hope to have more children one day soon. 

  • Geography: The Gentle Wargs live on a 5-mile square island at the base of the Lotus Delta (location 9 see below). Their very sturdy and elegantly crafted wooden homes are raised on thick decorated pilings to weather the spring floods of the Danthas and the storms off the Sea of Hethichol. The buildings are connected by walkways with ladders and elevators to reach the ground. The settlement is enclosed by a palisade of ironwood foraged from the Dismal Marsh with an inner walkway about the top and watch towers at the 4 points of the compass. The base of the wall is dotted with canoes used to travel the local waterways. The sounds of animals, such as chickens and goats as well as a small number of dogs and wargs, can be heard from within. The Gentle Wargs can be spotted rowing the canals while hunting and foraging or traveling to trade with the Marshwardens (#87), the Locathah and the sailors of the nearby lighthouse (location 6). They generally avoid the Hobgoblins and Lizardfolk (locations 3 and 4). 


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