The Great Taiga
The Empty Land
The forests and moors of the Great Taiga are almost perpetually shrouded in mists or snow. In the winter time, it is unbearably cold and snowy. Even in the summertime the sky is gray and the land chilly. The trees of this land are mostly coniferous evergreens, larches, spruces, and birches. Where the land isn’t covered in dark wet forests, it is dark green rolling hill land, dotted with the ruins and barrows of a lost people.
It is said that the Duanda were the rulers of this land. The names and history of this race of are long-lost to the shadows of time except for the records kept by the High Elves of Duandaria, and all that is left are the white stone ruins of their once great cities, sticking up from the green hills or hidden between the dark trees like dry white bones. These ruins seem almost to glow in the aura of the moon at night, piercing the mists as if they were ethereal spirits of past places.
It is a large land, and an empty seeming one. Flora is plentiful, though fauna is a bit scarce. There is game in the form of elk and boar, but few birds call this place home. What birds there are is usually of the hawk and eagle variety, or at night of the owl family. The many rivers of this land do provide good fishing, usually of river trout. One of these rivers bends southward, becoming The White in Trobal’brae and other more southern kingdoms.
The Hill Dwarves consider it a haunted land, hexed by dark fey spirits and the ghosts of the Duanda who called it home. In their oral legends, the Duanda who lived here were demon worshippers, calling up monsters from dark places underground or from beyond the sky. They also kept slaves, many of which were the nomadic precursors of the Hill Dwarves themselves. They fell due to their own hubris, the catalyst being a defiant stand by the old hill dwarf king Glenmer Duanore and his united tribes.The only humanoid race that calls the area home are the savage Pecht goblins, which seem to be more numerous here than anywhere.
The Dangers of the Northern Taiga
The Northern Taiga’s reputation isn’t simply the result of dwarven tavern tales. It is a land cloaked in darkness, both figuratively and literally. The dangers here are plentiful, and the most common or notable ones are listed here:
Pechts: The goblins of the Westbearn are called pechts, and are vicious animistic and tribal savages. In the Great Taiga they are numerous, striking south to raid. They haunt the ruins of the Duanda, making strange idols and dancing around roaring bonfires.
Enchantments: The forests, rivers, bogs, and moors are mist cloaked and moon veiled at night, giving the impression of deep enchantments. Sometimes, this is actually true. More than one adventurer has bent to drink at a stream, and never rise again, locked in perpetual sleep until they waste away to nothing. Such enchantments are said to be the curse of the old race of men, or to be the malevolent “pranks” of dark and evil fey creatures.
Beasts: Some of the beasts of these huge and dark forests harken back to a time before history, when nature was a true power of the world. Bears and wolves, even badgers and foxes, of great size and strength hunt in the paths and clearings. Even Elk twice the size of a highland deer dance between the trees.
Fey Powers: Such a dark and magical land, with such a rich history, attract the darkest of fey, who feed upon the magics here and take the forests, caves, and moors as their homes. Hags haunt the riverways, will o’the wisps flit over the ponds and bogs, and trolls wander under the trees, always looking for their next meal. Not all fey powers here are evil, however, and snowy glades and crystal ponds may host powerful fey spirits that will communicate with worthy souls.
The Haunted Ruins: The white ruins of the old race of men are scattered about the land, the only record in the annals of history of this now lost people. They are not entirely still, however. The spirits of these men walk there still, as skeletal remains patrolling hallways that no longer exist, as ghosts that shriek in envy at the warm blood of the living. And worse of all, in the barrows of heroes and kings, await the dreaded wights and liches.
The Ice Men: Even beyond the taiga the land extends on into a snowy waste of tundra and ice. Here the rough and barbaric Ice Men live, surviving on the whales and seals of the icy oceans, or going south into the Taiga for game. Some say they are the degenerate survivors of the once great race of men. Contact with them is usually violent, for they have a severe distrust of any outsider, believing everyone but themselves to be evil spirits, trying to destroy their totemic gods. They don’t spend much time in the Taiga, fearing it much like the dwarves do.
Brigands: Lastly, there are many who seek their fortunes in the forests and ruins, and not just a few of them would seek their fortune preying on other travelers as well as the bones of a bygone civilization.