Tumbling Fells (3.5e Environment)
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|Tranquil, nostalgic, beautiful -|
and one of the deadliest places in the world.
The western and eastern kingdoms of Pansaer are separated not just by culture, but by geography. On the northern side of Caragos Eavorn west and east are separated from each other by the harsh prairie of Remoras and the Red Wastes. In the east, the barrier are the Tumbling Fells. While a cursory glance would suggest that the fells are quiet, beautiful, even peaceful, they are anything but. The Tumbling Fells aren't called Troll Country for nothing.
The Fells are a massive expanse of land dominated by great fells, taller and more jagged in the north and lower and smoother in the south. The tops of the fells are bald and harsh, supporting only a few stunted birches, and are surrounded by vast woodlands of hardy evergreens. The western edge of the Fells houses birch forests that thrive with life, while the eastern edge peters into a magnificent dry plain filled with large carnivores and herds.
The environment of the Tumbling Fells doesn't pose a threat to travelers - although the constant rainfall of the summer season can be a bother - but the inhabitants sure do. The Tumbling Fells are nearly uninhabited by the more civilized races due to the presence of uncountable giants: while some amounts of the titan's children have always lived in the Fells, it was in year 882 that they started arriving in large numbers, earning the place the moniker "Troll Country". Now the tops of northern fells are dominated by dark standing stones, with hungry mouths hiding in their shadows. The eldest giants have even established underground fortresses.
The goliaths of Pansaer are originally from the Tumbling Fells, and they are the only race to have any sort of settlements in the area. Even then, they only inhabit the less hazardous borders of the region, and contact between western and eastern goliaths is scarce. Goliaths have no cities per se, but some of their older settlements have grown into towns, with buildings of wood and clay halfway built into the fells.
The Tumbling Fells are among the coldest regions in Pansaer. The swift southern winds and closeness to the sea lower the temperature noticeably, although extremes of both ends - too hot or too cold - are rare. The Fells are one of the only places asides from the mountain range where snowfall is common.
The tops of the fells and their slopes count as rugged hills terrain (DMG, p. 89), while the forests in-between count as medium or dense forest terrain (DMG, p. 87). Westwards the forests get lighter and the fells lower; eastwards the forests run out and the fells turn into high plateaus. In the south the fells terminate into high cliffs by the sea, while in the north the fells get higher and higher until they seamlessly join the mountains.
Nighsummer is dominated by heavy rainfall (DMG, p. 94). These rains are characterized by their laziness: water falls in big drops and the moisture seems to get everywhere. Each such period of rain is preceded and followed by heavy fog (DMG, p. 94). Since the clear periods between the fog and the rain are quite brief, travel becomes difficult in the summer, unless a skilled survivalist accompanies the travelers.
Once or twice a year the rain-bringing southern winds whip into a proper storm. The wind grows to windstorm levels (DMG, p. 95) and the accompanying rain makes the fells a lethal place to be, unless you've got somewhere to hide from nature's fury. Even the giants of the Fells hide in their burrows and stone circles when the great winds whip Troll Country, and their boulder barrage seizes for a while.
The Fells are also prone to earthquakes. Most of these quakes are small, rumbling affairs that do little to hinder anyone. It is from these quakes, and the minor avalanches they set off, that the Fells get their name from. Every now and then these minor quakes grow into full-blown earthquakes that shake the ground for tens or even hundreds of miles. Midlands folklore tells that these quakes are due to the tossing and turning of Korgar in his centennial sleep.
|Face it: you're no longer|
the biggest guy around.
The variety of fauna found in the Tumbling Fells is amazing. Since the area sports two types of terrain - rocky, mountainous fells and heavily forested lowlands - it contains twice the kinds of animals as well. Many sorts of natural animals both big and small live in the Fells and their surroundings. It is one of the oldest, most untouched-by-civilization places on Pansaer, so the strains of animals are equally ancestral, and uniformly massive.
Goliaths, the self-pronounced descendants of the titan pantheon, are the only humanoids to make the Fells their home. Here, the goliaths practice their nomadic ways; being constantly on the move is good protection against giant hostility and the elements. They do have a few permanent settlements in the southeastern end of the area, although these are nothing compared to even small towns of other races.
Giants are the most infamous dwellers of Troll Country. Trolls gather in populous tribes that live on the cliffsides and forested regions of the Fells - hence the nickname. Giants both greater (fogMF, hill and stone) and lesser (mostly ettins and ogres) dwell here, each according to their habits and customs. In general, the farther north you go and the higher the fells get, the meaner the giants. A few of the nobler giants, which consider themselves the direct heirs of the titans, have built underground fortresses and halls below the greatest fells.
Giants are not the only monsters to plague the Fells. The secluded wilds of Troll Country are fertile breeding ground for a variety of hideous beasts. Hydras, mephits (mostly air and ooze), will-o'-wisps and wyverns all threaten travellers, and vermin grow to monstrous sizes in the teeming forests: gigantic praying mantises are especially well-known.
|d% (Easy)||d% (Hard)||Encounter||Average EL|
|—||01-04||1 fog giantMF and 1d4 invisible stalkers||11|
|—||05-08||1 twelve-headed hydra||11|
|—||16-25||1d3 hill giants and 1d6 dire wolves||10|
|—||26-32||1 nymph with one each of ape, brown bear, constrictor snake, mountain lion and wolf companions||9|
|—||33-43||1 ogre chieftain (3rd-level fighter), 1d3 ogre ritualists (3rd-level adept) and 1d4 ogres||9|
|—||44-53||1d4 Large earth elementals and 1d4 Large water elementals||9|
|01-06||54-61||1d6 air mephits and 1d6 ooze mephits||8|
|07-11||62-68||1 stone giant and 1 Large earth elemental||8|
|12-18||69-75||1 five-headed pyrohydra and 1 five-headed cryohydra||8|
|26-34||84-92||1 goliath amok-mage (4th-level druid) and 1d6 goliath berserkers (2nd-level barbarian)||7|
|35-42||93-100||1 water naga||7|
|43-48||—||1d6 giant eagles||6|
|59-68||—||1 giant stag beetle and 1d3 giant bombardier beetles||5|
|69-76||—||1 necromancer (3rd-level wizard specializing in necromancy), 1d6 skeletons and 1d6 zombies||5|
|77-85||—||1d4 goliath headhunters (2nd-level ranger)||4|
|86-92||—||1 brown bear||4|
Points of interest
Cyl Nahcor, or the Village of Pelts, is the largest gathering of goliaths in the Tumbling Fells. The village consists of several dozen longhouses made of light birch and covered with animal pelts of various kinds. Each longhouse has only one type of pelt on it, lending the village an uniform look. A longhouse houses from anywhere between one and ten families - goliaths don't mind the closeness.
The lightness of the longhouses, as well as their simple construction, means that they're easy to disassemble and move. This is on purpose: Cyl Nahcor is a moving village. The goliaths of Cyl Nahcor travel with the seasons, avoiding natural disasters and murderous giants. This is possible thanks to the efforts of the village's shamans.
The shamans of Cyl Nahcor are a naturally-occurring mutation of the Fells. They have powerful arcane powers not linked to the Word and the Law, and these powers are often (although not always) inherited. This comes with a price: the shamans often sport hideous mutations, and both mother and child are at risk during childbirth. Each shaman lives in a longhouse all their own. These longhouses are covered in grim giant hides and the pelts of strange beasts, instead of the more mundane animal skins.
Cyl Nahcor is among the more hospitable goliath settlements. Those goliaths who stick to their old ways, dwindling in the Fells, are often distrustful of or outright hate outsiders, and woe to those who happen upon such a tribe. The folk of Cyl Nahcor understand that the times are changing. They might not like it, but will accept travelers (at least those who behave courteously) and will not hinder young goliaths who want to leave the village. Cyl Nahcor might not be a paradise for non-goliaths, but at least their longhouses are never covered with humanoid pelts.
Dead Teeth Top
Standing stones are common in the Tumbling Fells. They're among the only structures even the most savage of giants can create, and they are very much like them: tall and hard. The more advanced giants shape their standing stones, fashioning them into rough obelisk shapes or scoring them with indecipherable runes and pictographs. Many a fell top is jagged with an array of such standing stones.
But none can challenge Dead Teeth Top. The northeastern fell is not particularly tall, but it is very wide: it encompasses an area of roughly four square miles. The fell is almost perfectly round, and it houses seven nested rings of standing stones. The first and longest ring, which runs along the bottom of the fell, has low, simple stones almost hidden by forest and undergrowth, while the stones of the highest, shortest ring are gargantuan things that blot out the sky.
A host of stone giants and their elders inhabit Dead Teeth Top. Their simple dwellings, little more than dens or lairs, are excavated into the dirt and stone of the fell's sides. The higher a giant lives, the more important he is. At the center of the nested rings lives a council of three stone giant wizards. Their long years and ceaseless study means they are masters of the arcane arts.
The Moving Mound
The historical Reckoning begins with the titan pantheon overthrowing the lesser gods and divinities. Many of them were destroyed, but some escaped and hid in the depths of the earth, beneath the waves, or in supernatural realms. Some, however, were so powerful that they did neither: the only thing Auri and his kin could do was to restrain them in the world and hope they'd never free themselves.
One such specimen is the Moving Mound. Outwardly, the Mound appears to be little more than a roughly humanoid-shaped fell. Sure, it's even more barren than the other fells, and no animal will approach it, but it's just a landmark, right? Not so. The Mound is an ancient titan of extraordinary power. Auri could not defeat it in combat, so instead Luni wove an enchantment of eternal sleep over it. The unnamed titan fell asleep, forming the Mound. If one presses their ear against the "stone" of the Mound, they can hear a slow pound, like the heartbeat of a mountain.
The name comes from the fact that, during the severest earthquakes and thunderstorms, the titan stirs and wakes halfway. It then drowsily wanders the Fells, laying waste to countryside where its titanic feet fall. When the world calms down, the sleep once again takes hold of the titan, and it falls where it stands. Thus, the Mound is always on the move.
Some of the giants living in the Tumbling Fells consider the Moving Mound their forefather and god-king. They track its movements (from afar, obviously) and seek to dwell as near to it as is safe. They sacrifice sentient beings to it in dark rituals and hope to reach it in its millennial dreams, so that it would awaken and take down the titans who withdrew their promise of giving the world to the giants. The Mound acknowledges them in no way.
Examples of adventures
|Out of the sight of gods, blasphemy takes place.|
- Food of the Gods: A chilly forest stream runs from the mountains into the sea, disappearing under a fell every now and then. But under one such fell lives a tribe of vicious scrags. They venerate Korgar, the father of trolls. To worship their god, they systematically capture giants through numbers alone and drag them into their underfell hideout half-drowned. Their restrained prey is then butchered while still alive by hag fiends, while scrag shamans make sure the prey doesn't perish before its time. The living flesh of the victim is eaten by the scrags and fed to hook horrorMM2 pets. Turns out they're happy to commit this sickening divine service on anyone who blunders into their hidden haunt.
- I Don't Need No Civil War: You get caught up in a minor civil war: three archwizards from the Spire, along with their star students, have come to study the giant-created standing stones of the Fells, and since each archwizard represents a different specialization, strife is unavoidable. The first faction consists of powerful evokers; the second is made up of conjurers and their summoned minions; and the third and smallest is a handful of illusionists, supported by half-real relfections of their foes.
- In The Guise of the Beast: Full moon climbs into the sky as the last of the post-rain fog dissipates into the night. Suddenly, you hear hideous roaring: a mixture of animal and human rage. Great, lumbering beasts close in from behind boulders and trees: bears. Wait, no - they're goliaths! Draped in bloodstained bear hides, the ravenous berserker tribe approaches. But among their numbers are a few who are truly connected to their animist deity, and have left their humanoid shape behind. You're draw into a deadly game of "spot the monster": which of the approaching figures are disguised goliaths and which are lycanthropes?
- Old as Stone: A stone giant elder, seemingly as old as the Fells themselves, sits by a firepit the size of a forest fire. His white mane and beard nearly touch the ground, and his milky-white, pupilless eyes gaze an unseeing gaze into the fire. He is blind, and doesn't seem to notice that those who wish to talk to him aren't giants - or perhaps pretends not to notice. He'll happily talk about the long history of the Tumbling Fells: the pantheon's betrayal of their children, the coming of the trolls, the young race of the goliaths... He speaks with a mourning in his voice: the world was large once, was his once, and is no longer.
- Worm of an Older Time: Deep, deep beneath the Fells, under mud and earth and stone, hidden in halls delved thousands of years ago, dwells a Worm. It is a Crimson Worm, a Ravenous Worm, a Burning Worm. It has found solace hidden away from the eyesight of the blazing sun and the pale moon, and in the heart of the world it devises calamities for the world. Pampered by giant and salamander servants, warmed by elementals and hell hounds and guarded by marvels of an ancient era, the Worm is safe - or so it thinks.