Designing the Northern Lakelands of Cyre

When I looked at the upper left corner of Cyre that sort of sticks out into Scions Sound, I thought it would make sense to either by quite hilly (hence the shape) or swampy. I settled with wetlands and marshes, since there weren’t that many other areas in Cyre that didn’t seem like they’d be pretty dry, at least pre-Mourning. That gives it a unique character that’s quite nice and different from the blasted plains of central Cyre.

Once a playground for the wealthy, the Lakelands are now one of the best places to get lost in the whole Mournland. Apart from the high moors of the northern tip, the rest of the land has sunk into a filthy, dangerous swamp. Grand palaces and hunting lodges are now half-submerged in mud and water, and entire towns have washed away. Most bridges were destroyed in the war, and the canals are regularly blocked with fallen trees. Salvagers who have come back from the region report that it feels as though they are in a maze where the walls keep shifting and foul slimy things wait to ambush them.

This area was fought over extensively for much of the war, and large parts of its territory was held by forces from Thrane or Karrnath for long periods of time. This became a deliberate strategy by the Cyrans during the middle of the Last War. They were willing to concede territory to help bring two of their main enemies into conflict with one another. Cyran fighters in the region were typically peasant partisans who tried to use the terrain to ambush their invaders’ supply lines, or spied on troop movements for either side.

Undead soldiers are still a threat in the northern parts once held by Karrnath, and there is a small garrison of warforged loyal to Thrane and the Silver Flame stationed on the western edge of the Mournland to serve as a beachhead for Templar monster hunting expeditions.

Regional Capital: Dollen on the River

The main city in this region was Dollen on the River, a small port city that was a hub for trade in the region. Fine wares from Cyre and across Galifar were sold to noble customers visiting Thronehold, and it was traditionally the last stop before the new king or queen arrived in Thronehold for their coronation. Dollen was the main port for Cyre’s small Northern Fleet, and its castle was a major naval fortress during the war, equipped with batteries of siegestaves and other anti-ship weapons.

The city had fallen into Karrnathi hands at the time of the Mourning, and some of the occupying garrison was able to escape by commandeering any vessel ready to sail in the docks. Cyran civilians who tried to join them were violently held back from the docks by undead troops or thrown into the waters and bludgeoned with oars. A handful of the native population made it to safety by being high-value prisoners, or by having some personal connection to a Karrn soldier. 

A strange growth of black and grey tendrils has now infested the city, occasionally with a swollen body attached like some odd fruit hanging from the side of a building or lamppost. Shambling humanoids made from these tendrils congregate in dark places, waiting for prey (use blight statistics). 

The docks are still guarded by the undead soldiers left behind by the Karrnathi, who seem to have grown more cunning and independent left to their own devices, and have trapped the harbor mouth and many nearby buildings with nets,spiked pits and barricades. The ruins of the castle are rumoured to be a secret base from which the Emerald Claw plans acts of terror, but no one has survived investigating it yet.  

Major Landmark: The Dragon’s Trench

This artificial waterway was once the pride of Cyre, and vitally important to House Cannith. It ran from the north of Lake Azul near Eston past the Lakelands to Dollen on the River, and was used extensively by House Cannith and House Dennieth for transporting troops, raw materials and manufactured goods between the north and south. It had many prosperous villages and towns along its length near the elemental locks, but the water elementals that once powered these have now broken free and are a large hazard to navigation, along with many fallen bridges and dams of debris. In several places, the upheaval caused by the opening of the Glowing Chasm has buried the canal under small hills of rock and mud.

Elemental locks are a type of eldritch machine that use bound water elementals to alter the flow of water as though casting the spell Control Water (Redirect Flow), allowing barges to move up shallow ramps without stopping and waiting for a normal mechanical lock to fill. The locks do have gates to stop water moving into them at the wrong time, but these are normally open before the barge reaches them.

Hex Key for the Northern Lakelands of the Mournland

Simplified hexmap of the Lakeland of the Mournland and surrounding areas.

Hex Key A (Northern Lakelands)

A1Frozen Moor: Eternal winter grips this area, ranging from frosty on the moors to deadly cold in settlements, but there is no snow, only ice. Many people and animals were frozen solid, but some mutated to thrive in these conditions.
A2Fort Penance: Templars from the Silver Flame maintain a fort and docks here for monster-hunting expeditions. Many of the Templars who serve regret things they did during the war, or are being disciplined by their superiors. 
A3The Blackened Stumps: A coven of green hags and their scarecrow servants attempt to protect the Thelanis manifest zone at the heart of the forest from corrupted fey such as dryads and pixies. 
A4Stone Forest: Petrified trees fill this area, most fallen in a tangle of stone and crystal columns that block roads and canals. A herd of Gorgons who escaped from Cannith’s zoo in Eston now wander the forest, as well as cultists of Orlask, the Shaper of Stone. 
A5Sunken Summer Palace: The King of Galifar had a large royal palace here for hunting and entertaining. Many surplus relatives of the royal family lived on the sprawling estate throughout the war, but now the whole place is flooded and sinking into the mud, and there are rumors of an Emerald Claw massacre of the royal bloodline. 
A6The Devouring Glen: An area famous for hunting, the local Lammanian manifest zone has become corrupted to spawn abominations that roam the nearby lands, dragging prey back into the fleshy growths.  
A7Acid Lakes: Large crystal clear lakes are separated by thin strips on land. The lakes are filled with acid, and in the center is the lair of an Adult Black Shadow dragon, Galythanix, a criminal from Argonessen who is being corrupted by his hiding place. He prefers to greet visitors as an eccentric old half-orc hermit, hoping they’ll leave him in peace.  
A8Crawling Fortress of Slime: Creations and servants of the Prince of Slime have been drawn to infest this area of wetlands. Their home is within a vast, gelatinous blob that slowly roams the center, devouring anything it can overrun. If food is scarce, it turns on the cultists. 
A9Dollen on the River: The regional capital, this war-torn city is now wreathed in mist and fleshy vines that cover most surfaces and is the haunt of both hordes of blights and organised, intelligent undead soldiers left behind by Karrnath.
A10Burning Bog: Karrnathi siege engineers set fire to this peat bogland in the final moments of the war to isolate the city of Dollen, and large patches of it have been burning ever since. Rumors state the Warforged Colossus Nabus is trapped somewhere inside, and the Blades are actively searching for it.
A11Glass Plain of the Blast Shadows: The Warforged Colossus Nabus smashed a Karrnathi advance here and pursued the army as it fled back towards Dollen. A lot of military equipment was abandoned where it lay, but the area is plagued by the shadows of those incinerated by the Colossus, who target warforged or Cyrans first if possible.  
A12Mistmire Lake: Once the largest lake in the whole region, now mysteriously drained. The bottom is thick mud covered in mist, and is the home to mutant crawfish of enormous size (ankhegs). Illusionary islands with pleasure palaces and intact fortresses can lure explorers out into the mud, and there are real islands and treasures to be seized.
A13Necromancer meat market: Corpse scavengers bring bodies and even captured undead from the surrounding areas to this former market town to sell to necromancers under the eye of the Emerald Claw. Packs of barely-controlled ghouls and zombie beasts roam the countryside to deter unwelcome visitors. 

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