Northern Cyre rises in gentle, rolling hills to form the Crown plateau. In the past, this was the hideout of bandits and goblins, a violent history that can still be seen in many fortified buildings and romantic ruins. It is now a simple place of farmers, miners and woodcutters, far removed from the glamour of Metrol.
Few places have changed as much as this part of Cyre. Once one of the highest (and least significant) parts of the country, the northern central plateau has cracked open into a huge chasm, from which a strange purple light shines, attracting monsters and warping most living things around it.
The chasm itself is about 12 miles across and several hundred miles long. No one has survived the trip to the bottom (at least not without being warped and driven mad by the experience), and its exact depth is uncertain, but it is at least several miles deep. The sides are a mix of sheer cliff, scree-covered slopes, and stranger substances such as fleshy, tumorous boulders, iridescent glass, or strange saw-tooth crystals. Climbing down looks quite easy at first, but becomes very difficult the deeper you go due to the intense light and strange materials of the walls.
The area immediately around the Chasm was never densely populated, and the landscape has broken into many minor cracks and canyons, isolated mountains and rocky outcrops, and stranger things such as hills of quivering flesh or lakes of boiling blood.
Theories about the Glowing Chasm
It is generally accepted that the Glowing Chasm might be the key to understanding the Mourning, but it is such a dangerous environment that no one has been able to study it properly. The following are some theories about it that scholars might hire the party to prove or disprove:
The Eye of Khyber: This theory has a few variations, but all believe that the chasm leads to a demiplane of Khyber. Some believe that this demiplane was deliberately exposed by Cyre or some other force, causing the Mourning, others believe that the Mourning broke through to Khyber. An apocalyptic version of this theory is that the Last War caused Khyber herself to stir, and the Glowing Chasm is literally her half-open eye, although this is mostly believed by Cults of the Dragon Below.
The Xoriat Maze: This theory ties the Glowing Chasm’s warping effects to Xoriat and the Daelkyr. There are several variations to it as well. The most common one is that the war or Mourning destroyed several Gatekeeper seals, opening a direct route to one of the Daelkyr’s prisons in Khyber. A more extreme version of this theory is that the Glowing Chasm is itself a manifest zone to Xoriat that allows free passage between the planes, and the Mourning is the first step in a new Xoriat invasion.
Starfall: This is the least popular theory, but it has some powerful proponents, especially in Karrnath. According to this theory, the Cyrans attempted to use an eldritch machine to pull down a great Siberys dragonshard, either as a resource or as a weapon of mass destruction against their enemies. The process went wrong and the shard carved the Glowing Chasm through Cyre, creating the Mourning as its magical energies were released.
|C1||Abandoned Research Station: The Twelve attempted to establish an elite team of researchers here, confident that their magic wards would allow them to study the chasm. A few survivors managed to escape back to Korth. Now it is a shrine for pilgrims seeking to be transformed by the chasm where they shed their possessions and leave final messages.|
|C2||The Gates of Madness: Two towering pillars mark the northern tip of the Glowing Chasm. Beyond, a narrow trail seems to descend into the depths. A close inspection reveals that the growths are made up of hundreds of mutated, petrified bodies.|
|C3||The Rising Flood: Thick pink ichor slowly crawls up the side of the Chasm here, spreading to form a shallow, amoeba-like lake. Creatures may drink this liquid and it provides both food and water, but it is also poisonous and swiftly mutates them into aberrant creatures. Slow or unwary creatures may be engulfed and dissolved as they drink, leaving only bones.|
|C4||Gibbering Mountain: Audible for many miles, this conical mountain is in fact a Gibbering Mouther of enormous size. Immobile, it relies on its droning gibbering to drive nearby creatures into its many cavernous mouths. Who knows what treasures are in its guts?|
|C5||Blade penal colony: Warforged and other humanoid prisoners are trapped in this side-canyon of the chasm to observe the warping effects of the chasm first hand, and as symbolic punishment for not conforming to the rigid order of the Blades. The guards are all Iron Defenders, and no food is provided for those that need it.|
|C6||The Night Forest: This lush forest seems to be almost normal at first, but living things grow and age rapidly within. At its heart is a giant tree, recently awakened with the powers of a great druid, but the mind of a fearful young child.|
|C7||Fallen Colossus: The remains of the Warforged Colossus Arkus lie at the bottom of the chasm here, surrounded by the gibbering remnants of those that tried to claim it. These aberrations believe that when there are enough of them, they will be able to join together into one entity and wear the Colossus as armor. They are led by a mutated dragon from the research station before it was fully automated.|
|C8||The Glass Bridge: An impossibly long arch of glass, 20 feet wide at its narrowest point, crosses the glowing chasm below. It can be used to travel over the chasm or peer into its depths, but the souls of those who slipped into the chasm are trapped within the glass, and attempt to charm others to join them or send them friends to play with.|
|C9||Caverns of a Thousand Forms: Here the caves in the side of Chasm grow so numerous it looks like a vast beehive. In fact, this is a city of rebel aberrations who seek to destroy the Mindflayers who prey on them. The winged mutants from the Drop also nest here.|
|C10||The Drop: Creatures that approach the southern tip of the Chasm are faced with an overwhelming urge to throw themselves off a sheer cliff to journey deep into Khyber. There is a 50% chance their fall will be magically slowed as they mutate into blind, winged aberrations similar to nightgaunts.|
|C11||Irontooth Bastion: This area is perpetually and magically dark, a foreboding hollow ringed with dead trees and iron pillars. In the center rises a fiendish outpost of rusty iron, its garrison besieged by monsters. Its commander is willing to trade fiendish weapons for certain services.|
|C12||Mindflayer Citadel: A group of mindflayers have set up a city of aberrations here dedicated to the worship of Drynn as the benevolent lord or change, using the energies of the chasm to power strange devices and experiments. They are not interested in normal brains, but retaliate if attacked.|
|C13||Golem Research Station: This base was established by dragons to study the Mourning, and is manned by advanced constructs immune to the warping nature of the chasm. The Blades hope to seize control of these golems to retrieve the Colossus at the bottom of the chasm.|