Today we’re taking looking further into the world of Islia, a sample world from Gates, the upcoming game from Stormforge West. So without further ado, here’s James:
This part of the world is north of Nenmaa and South of the Stone-Carved Mountains.The vast majority of the land is a large boreal forest. The southernmost point of the woodlands is a large plain which bleeds into Nenmaa and eventually converts into a desert. The Central Woodland is a difficult place to live. While it is beautiful and vast, it is also filled with all sorts of monsters, evil creatures, and dangerous tribes of goblins. The only people wild and tough enough to tame this land is the wolf-like and centaurian Lourulf.
The Lourulf have over a hundred different tribes which wander the boreal forest of the Central Woodlands. They are nomadic in nature, and consistently scrabble and fight for territory. Travelers to the Stone-carved mountains who must pass through the Central Woodland often seek out tribes of Lourulf to guide them.
The animals of the Central woodland tend to be large and healthy. There are true rumors of several animals spotted that are much larger than they would naturally be. Moose which stand twenty feet tall. Bears that knock over trees. Eagles who make nests the size of a large house. These are just a few of the examples.
The First and Last
There is a single tree in the Central Woodland which towers above all others. It is seen by anyone above the treeline and can be seen with a spyglass from atop the Stone-Carved Mountains. This tree is known as the Otskai which means both beginning and end. It is told by Lourulf story tellers to be the first tree of the Central Woodland and to be the last tree to fall. It is a sacred tree that, some say, has a spirit of its own.
Several of the Lourulf tribes use the tree as a point of pilgrimage. When a Lourulf of one of these tribes reaches adulthood, they travel to the tree. Upon arriving, they carve their name or personal symbol. The carvings reach approximately 15 feet up the tree, which makes it difficult for a Lourulf to reach. There are many large stones around the tree that are used to make a makeshift stair to reach, but the stair is always dismantled. The journey is dangerous. Many monsters and dangerous animals roam the area around the tree, protecting it seemingly by instinct. However, what is more dangerous is the Guardian Tribe. The Guardian Tribe, which is how they are introduced to other races, is a group of Lourulf who live at the base of the tree. They attempt to stop anyone from reaching it. Not out of protection, malice, or hate, rather it is a practice of allowing only the worthy to carve their name into the tree.
The Guardian Tribe does not kill, but they will maim. If they do wound a fellow Lourulf to the point where it is dangerous to return to their tribe, they will escort them back to their tribe. Once the Lourulf seeking the tree places a hand on the tree, the Guardian Tribe halts their efforts. The methods of bypassing the Tribe do not matter, each way shows a different skill and talent. Some simply charge forward and rush through the differences, using brute strength to push to the tree. Others distract the guards, convince them to let them pass, bribe them, sneak through, or even hire mercenaries or adventurers to help them through.
There is a rumored monster that wanders the Central Woodland. A large, hairy beast which walks on two legs. It is not strange for monsters to live and roam in the Central WOodland. However, this one is strange in that it is only rumored to exist. There have been many sightings of this creature, called Sasquatch, but no proof. It is widely regarded as a legend, a hoax, and a tale to tell around a bar.
However, the sasquatch does exist. In fact, it is an entire race of creatures. A small race, with less than 50 members, but they exist. They almost never leave their village, but when they do they act with utmost stealth. The large, furry humanoid is surprisingly stealthy. Able to avoid being seen from less than 5 yards away. The village is situated in the treetops of a certain part of the forest, and it is constructed in a certain way as to be able to be moved. If someone were to find it, it could be moved overnight. An entire army could walk under this village and not notice its presence at all.
To access the village, one must simply climb a tree connected to it and hope the sasquatch archers do not strike you down. The village is a peaceful place made of wood bridges (disguised as leaves) connecting simple huts together. The Sasquatch have no rulers, but instead live in a hive-mind like society. Each has a slight psionic connection to the others. This psionic connection extends to other creatures as well, but where the sasquatch can communicate with each other and sense each other’s feelings, other creatures merely have their perception shifted. A skilled Sasquatch can stand five feet in front of a human, and the human might not even register something is wrong.
The Serpent’s Maw
Long before the Lourulf claimed this land, there was an unnamed civilisation which held dominion over the land. Little is known about them, but they were known to be a serpent-like race which has since died out. When this civilisation existed, the Central Woodlands was a steaming swamp and the Stone-Carved mountains were nearly half the size they are now. They left only a few traces of their existence, but they did leave behind something. The Serpent’s Maw.
During an Elven archeology expedition in the Central Woodlands, an entrance to a vast underground structure was discovered. It appears to be a skull of a giant python, its mouth agape. Down its gullet is a tunnel which leads deep into a winding and twisting maze. At first, the Serpent’s Maw appears to be skeleton. It is constructed of bone. Soon, it becomes apparent the Maw is man-made. Explorers have yet to head deep into the Maw yet, but those who have explored have returned with strange, otherworldly treasures.