Landscape: Full Ecology (Temperate Deserts, Forests, Hills, Plains, Mountains, and Swamps). Despite its small size, measuring only about sixty or so miles long and about forty or so miles wide, the domain of Taerek (TAIR-eck) encompasses an astonishing variety of landscapes. Surrounded on all sides by a vast expanse of rolling mists and freezing fog, which ebb and flow like the tides and roil and shift like a great Ethereal storm cloud, Taerek is a land of sweeping grasslands and craggy highlands with sparse heather and mosses clinging to the exposed rocky hillsides. In the north, the glacial Stahlgaard Mountains form a barrier against the frozen reaches just beyond, their treacherous slopes blanketed by various shrubs and patches of evergreen forest. Rugged outcroppings and sheer ledges abound making travel a lethal challenge for even the most hardened mountaineers. Bitter winds scream across the heights, threatening to fling travelers from the mountainside, and avalanches choke the mountain passes for months at a time. Semi-frozen streams tumble down the mountainsides, their waters a mere trickle in some places, a torrent beneath a thick crust of ice in others, frequently transforming into silent waterfalls that hang from the rocky precipices, caught forever as glittering curtains of ice.
While in the south, the desert-like Drakkar Wastes frequently experience an almost oppressive heat, a region of sandy to rocky desert marked by boulder fields, stony wastes, and scattered wells and oases with a few rare grasses, shrubs, and cacti. In the west, the Sunset Mountains, crowned by the peaks of Mount Neris and the volcanic Mount Dabryn, overlook the realm. Rugged and trackless, the mountains are surrounded by broken badlands that sprawl to the west and south, and include a range of rocky uplands known as the Broken Crescent which separate the Drakkar Wastes from the rest of the domain. Whereas in the east, a series of ridges and rocky plateaus, known simply as The Stairway, dominates the skyline. The rest of Taerek consists of rolling grasslands and wind-swept steppes dotted with rocky uplands and small copses of trees — dark, twisted places full of grasping branches and ominous shadows.
Though etched with a web of rivers and streams, most prominently the Samark and Kaskin rivers in the north, the Tindol in the east, and the Saelish, Dahlith, Presper, Mordent, and Landrin rivers in the south, none of Taerek’s waterways are navigable for heavy traffic. Instead, travel is only possible downstream on light river vessels and rafts. A pair of freshwater lakes can be found here as well, the glacial Diarfell nestled amidst the Stahlgaard Mountains in the north, and the sinkhole-fed, partially subterranean Undermere in the southern core, near Darkon Forest. Small, scattered bogs and fens can be found nestled along the domain’s various waterways, which can grow quite large in low-lying regions with poor drainage, transforming into expanses of marsh and swampland. Otherwise, a few ponds, wells, watering holes, or creeks can be found scattered throughout the region, but no other significant bodies of water.
Climate: Temperate (Northern Hemisphere). Though it otherwise behaves as though it is located in a temperate zone in the northern hemisphere of a spherical planet, Taerek experiences no seasonal variation. Rather, it seems to be stuck at the approximate time of the spring equinox. As such, temperatures tend to be quite cool, though still tolerable, usually hovering around 40 °F (about 4 °C) all year long, on rare occasions dropping as low as 30 °F (about – 1 °C) or rising as high as 59 °F (about 15 °C). Mist and fog is common, especially along the domain’s borders, where frost is a frequent nighttime visitor. Snow and ice, however, generally only occur naturally in and around the Stahlgaard Mountains, where temperatures frequently reach lows of 20 °F (about – 7 °C) or less. Showers are brief and pleasant for most of the year, but violent thunderstorms are not unheard of. Such storms feature spectacular displays of lightning and thunder, though the accompanying rains are rarely substantial. Most weather systems tend to approach from the southeast or south, blowing clockwise across the land. As such, the southern region is fairly bare and prone to wind erosion, especially in the Drakkar Wastes, where daytime temperatures can reach highs of 90 °F (about 32 °C) or more before dropping to nighttime lows of 50 °F (about 10 °C) or so.
Major Settlements: None.
Taerek is not a settled land. The primary inhabitants are braegolyns, horrid half-fiendish creatures that value little but strength and slaughter. Generally lawless, the braegolyns do not pursue organized goals, occupying themselves with petty power struggles and slating their base needs, distracted only by the occasional captive outlander, whom they gleefully torture and devour. A tiny contingent of human-like folk known as faeralin can also be found here, a single fortified outpost well hidden from the fiendish braegolyns.
The Law: No formal government. There exists a loose tribal system among the braegolyn, with each tribe little more than a chaotic jumble of bodies who happen to be camping together in relative proximity, represented by a mishmash of totems, patterns, and tribal standards. As such, even the braegolyn themselves would be hard pressed to tell members of one tribe apart from the others…but somehow they manage. The most powerful braegolyn in a tribe dominates its weaker kin until toppled by a challenger, and tribes frequently battle amongst themselves for resources, prestige, and pure sport.
Trade and Diplomacy: Resources (not exploited) — trout, timber, peat, gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, salt, gems, gypsum, coal, clay. Coinage — none.
Taerek is an untamed land, and the braegolyn have no interest in communication or trade with other beings.