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Geographic and Biological Overviewby Geoff Gander
This section will discuss the geographic layout of Selhomarr, and identify the major regions of the empire, and what one might find there.
The Layout of Selhomarr:
Selhomarr is a large land, taking up fully one-third of the landmass of the continent of Suridal. It is largely centred around the Bay of Lokam, which is the largest body of water on the continent. Selhomarr is not a contiguous nation - that is, it is not one large landmass. It is in fact broken up into three sections, each separated by part of the Bay of Lokam. Ships regularly ply the waters here, though, effectively eliminating any division that might otherwise exist.
The largest portion of Selhomarr is also the southernmost. It ranges along the southern shores of the Bay of Lokam, including the Tylierian Peninsula, which reaches into the bay itself. From here, it reaches due south, to the very foothills of the Lhomarrian Range, which runs along the "southeastern" coast of Suridal. It also encompasses part of the Forest of Garithor, to the "southeast", the Plains of Aymira near the coast, and large portions of the Ferennis and Disarna rivers, and the Rethelnis Forest in between - also in the south - along with a piece of the Bogs of Disania. The fabled Great Forest of Marinnir, with its great oaks and Dillianoras, dominates the Tylierian Peninsula, and further south, just "west" of the capital city of Calimnis (number one on the map), lies Brell's Wood. Between Brell's Wood and the coastal Plains of Aymira runs the ore-rich Sorathi Hills. The vast majority of this region is clear land, however, about half of it tilled.
The second largest portion lies to the north of the Bay of Lokam, and does not approach the Kordithos Mountains to the north very closely. It contains large tracts of the Forest of Veroxith to the "east" and the Lorethii Forest to the "west" - a large portion of which is in the Ilarnnian autonomous region. The northermost portion of this region reaches to the area around the town of Sepirolos (number 12 on the map), and contains most of the Bay of Xerothnyi. Again, large portions of this region are comprised of clear land, about half of which is also tilled.
The third, and smallest, portion lies on the "eastern" shores of the Bay of Lokam. Of all areas of Selhomarr, this is the least settled region. The majority of it is dominated by a portion of the Korvoris Forest, a great forest running north-south along the continent, in the shadow of the Lhomarrian Range. The only cultivated region lies on the tiny Prexirian Peninsula, upon which the city of Annurios is built.
Vegetation and Topography:
In terms of vegetation, Selhomarr is a rich land. Venturing north from the Lhomarrian Range, a traveller would pass through hardy mixed coniferous and deciduous forests of pines, maples, birch, and evergreens. Going further north, and down into the lowlands towards the coast, these trees would give way to more deciduous forests, with great oaks, maples, poplars, and birches. Such trees are also common in the Rethelnis Forest, as well as the Garithor Forest. As well, one would also notice the development of grasslands, much overshadowed by the towering trees. Journeying further north, the trees thin out almost entirely, save for a few thickets here and there, and Brell's Wood. Here, clear land and plains dominate, though a great stand of oak trees lie to the "east", within the section of the Forest of Garithor that lies within Selhomarr. By this point the grasslands are tall and vibrant, no longer overshadowed by the trees. One would also see farms and villages dotting the countryside.
Venturing further north, one would begin to see the Bay of Lokam on the horizon, as this land is quite flat, and runs straight to the water with few interruptions. From this point, also, one would notice the population density increasing, as hamlets give way to towns, and ultimately to cities along the coast. This area is also where the Ferennis and Disarna rivers merge, and become the powerful Calimnissian Flow, which swiftly moves northwards to the Bay. Further "west" of here, near the Bay of Lokam, we would also see the Sorathi Hills, the only rise between Brell's Wood and the coast - the remainder of the land taken up by the Plains of Aymira.
North of the coast, we see the deep waters of the Bay of Lokam, broken only by the great mass of the Tylierian Peninsula, in the centre of which the aforementioned Great Forest of Marinnir grows, bracketed by the Gorimnis Hills to the south, and the Amanis Hills to the north. The Great Forest is home to oaks of legendary height and girth, as well as the fabled Dillianora trees, whose white berries can sustain a traveller for days without having to eat or drink. Further north on the peninsula lie the Hills of Tremiros, but apart from this most of the land is flat and tilled, broken only by the occasional stand of oak, maple, and apple trees. Far to the "east", isolated from the rest of Selhomarr, is the enclave of Annurios. Much of this tiny region is dominated by the hardy oaks, yews, and ironwoods of the monolithic Korvoris Forest.
Leaving these lands and going further north, we cross more of the Bay of Lokam, to land on the northern shores. From the coast, the land gradually rises towards the north. The coastal regions are dominated by clear land, a large portion of which is tilled. This area is not heavily settled, though there are large population concentrations. The first vegetation apart from grasses and shrubs one would see would be the forests of Veroxith and Lorethii, both of which are deciduous, with great concentrations of fruit trees - which produce apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and even some oranges and lemons. Mixed with these fruit trees are magnolias, oaks, and fir trees. From this region the land rises still further - into the foothills of the towering Kordithos Mountains - but Selhomarr does not approach these heights. The only region of Selhomarr further north lies around the tiny Bay of Xerothnyi, near which the town of Sepirolos (number 12 on the map) stands. Here, the land is tilled and flat.
Generally speaking, Selhomarr is a temperate land, with mild weather almost year-round. Toward the south, as altitudes increase, the winters are colder and longer. Here, one can expect an annual snowfall of about one or two feet in the winter, and rainfall of about 12 inches in the summer months. Toward the north, snowfall decreases and rainfall increases, as temperatures become warmer. In the lowlands, annual rainfalls can be as high as 50 inches during wet years - sufficient to allow rich harvests. Rainfall becomes heavier towards the coasts, where temperatures are cooler due to moderating effects from ocean currents from the south. The weather and temperature along the coast of the Sea of Rax are much like those we find in northern Europe, around England and the Netherlands.
Along the coast of the Bay of Lokam itself, the temperatures are very mild, with warm, humid summers and cool, dry winters. Rainfall in this region becomes heavier towards the Sea of Rax and towards the "east". Areas such as the city of Annurios and the interior of the Tylierian Peninsula, which are more like Mediterranean rainforests in terms of climate, are like this year-round. North of the Bay of Lokam the climate becomes warmer and more humid still, almost subtropical. In less humid regions, towards the Kordithos Mountains in the north, one can find the fruit-growing areas, where the soil is more suitable for such things. Towards the coast, the temperature drops considerably, so that it is much like that of coastal regions further south - cool and damp.
Despite its generally temperate nature, Selhomarr's climate can go to extremes. The entire continent is occasionally subjected to abnormally cold winters, as wind patterns sometimes change, bringing far more cold air north from the south pole. On a couple of occasions during Selhomarr's history, the entire nation has been hit with cold weather, even freezing the entire Bay of Lokam one winter. Fortunately, such events are extremely rare - only happening three times in the past 4,000 years - but when they do occur, the empire is devastated as crops are killed, and many go hungry. Likewise, great droughts and intense heat have hit the land, turning the rich central plains into a dustbowl. This happens about as often as extremely cold winters do, and is no less dangerous to the people.
Just as Selhomarr is rich in vegetation, it is also filled with many species of animals. The forests are home to many forms of mundane and not-so-mundane life. Travellers can find everything there from foxes and squirrels to displacer beasts and owlbears. The plains are also teeming with life, with herds of aurochs and buffalo, ranging alongside rare species of giant rat (sort of like door mice). The swamps are filled with insects of all sorts (some of the giant variety), as well as isolated tribes of lizard men, who were here before the Selhomarrians came, and who still remain unknown to them. These lizard men are concentrated primarily in the Bogs of Disania, and live in simple tribal communities. The hills and mountains are known to harbour mountain goats, eagles, and rodents of various types. Much more noteworthy creatures, such as griffons, rocs, and hippogriffs, are also found in these regions, though for the most part their eyries are situated high up in the Lhomarrian Range. Finally, the seas are filled with fish of all descriptions, ranging from trout and salmon in the rivers to sharks, dolphins, and sea serpents in the Bay of Lokam.
Even underground, Selhomarr is filled with life. Natural limestone caverns near the foothills of the Lhomarrian Range and the Kordithos Mountains are known to house all sorts of jellies, slimes, oozes, and moulds, some of them being very large in size. Underground rivers, lakes, and streams beneath these hills and mountains teem with blind cave fish. Also present in these caverns are carrion crawlers, giant insects, and undead of various forms.
There are a few dragons living in the region, mostly reds high up in the Lhomarrian Range, a handful of greens in the Forest of Garithor, and blacks deep in the Bogs of Disania. These are mostly reclusive, and very rarely venture far into Selhomarr. Also present throughout the surface region are various sorts of undead, who, although not occupying any ecological niche, still are a factor in events in the wild. Large concentrations of them are known to exist south of the Plains of Aymir, not far outside the borders of Selhomarr proper. Some legends tell of a great wizard, who in ages past sought to found his own realm in defiance of the other spellcasters of Selhomarr. Although his fate is unknown, some claim that he was won over to the worship of dark powers, and raised an army to destroy his former homeland. Those same legends claim that since that time, undead have always existed in large numbers in the region known as the Forsaken Steppes, a region of blighted plains, crumbling escarpments, and fetid swamps along the coast.