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Lower Borean Valley: Notes and Maps

by Matthew Fleet

At last, I've finally got around to completing my first draft map of this region, which can be viewed here.

This area lies immediately to the west of Norwold, and my combination map of Northern Norwold and the Lower Borean Valley can be found here to show how the different areas actually line up.

My map is for the greater part a compilation of work from various other Mystaran cartographers, most namely Thorf, Sturm, Zendrolion, Robin, Oldawg and Birchbeer, to whom I offer my thanks (and apologies to anyone I've accidentally missed out!).

I have also based this map on Bruce Heard's work on Mystaran climates, as well as the Companion Set map of Brun (as opposed to the Hollow World version). This means I haven't accounted for any curvature, (just like the canon hex maps generally do not).

I noted that there were a number of themes running through most fanon works about Borea, such as the existence of a huge valley as well as a large wasteland (the Borean wastes) to the east. Both of these geographical features may be a direct consequence of the great upheaval at the time of the Rain of Fire, many millennia ago. It should also be noted that the area called the 'Borean wastes' is not a desert as such, but is instead an area where there happens to be little top soil and much exposed bedrock (and is therefore as cold as the surrounding areas). Humanoids have also featured prominently in most fanon works about Borea, and so are likely to be much more numerous in the Borean valley than humans.

In my map, the arctic circle would be situated where the Norzee meets Northern Norwold, which is slightly further north than some of the other fanon placements (canon material is slightly contradictory as to where the arctic circle is actually situated, so I have gone with Thorf's placement which he has used in his 'lining up the maps' project). Thorf has also very kindly checked the placement of the Norzee coastline as well as that of the Greater Borean River for me to ensure that they tie up with the placements shown in the Companion set map (lining the maps up by hand can be unreliable at the best of times, so I needed some help with this!).

In my campaign, the Borean Valley itself is a dangerous area, not only due to the Kingdom of the Dead (which contains some areas of radioactivity as well as numerous undead ruled by the Lich Lord), but also because of the magical influences in this area. When Blackmoor's civilisation was destroyed many millennia ago, large amounts of energy based on that civilisation's technomancy was released, causing havoc in this region. This has led to the wildlife becoming mutated and more dangerous than that for most of the other parts of Brun (giant and even gargantuan insects, spiders etc are relatively common in the Borean Valley, as well as predatory plant life, such as vampire roses, archer bushes, grab grass etc). There are also the occasional magical storms which create strange effects, such as turning the rain into unusual colours (and possibly causing magical damage as well). Fortunately, these effects are usually limited to the Borean valley itself, and do not affect the neighbouring areas.

I have only included a few suggested nations to the map, to ensure that there are numerous other areas where additional nations can be added, if desired. A quick summary of the nations shown is as follows:

The Kingdom of the Northern Gnomes: These gnomes are briefly mentioned in the Book of Wonderous Inventions, and live in arctic lands where they invent items to help them travel on the nearby water and ice. The placement for them was never mentioned in canon sources, so I have gone with Robin's location, where the terrain is ideal for these little fellows (there are mountains where they can mine and live underground, as well as various nearby lakes and moors where they can test out their inventions).

The Kingdom of the Lowland Roags is comprehensively described in Fan Gazetter 5 by Oldawg, and is mainly populated by humans and Hill Giants (as are most of the surrounding grasslands).

The Kingdom of Sidsteland has been described in previous fanon works as being inhabited by descendants of the Anatalians, but in other works, this area has been described as being populated by those distantly related to the Quariks (see the Creature Catalogue for a description of this race). I'm inclined to go with the latter, although having this nation populated by both types is also entirely plausible. Those distantly related to the Quariks have some natural immunity to cold, which explains how they can live in a tundra region. Their slightly bestial look can also be explained by them being partly and very distantly related to the Beastmen who now inhabit the arctic regions of the Hollow World. The inhabitants of Sidsteland revere fire and some of the names of their settlements reflect this. The actual lost city of the Quariks would most likely be placed a fair way to the North West of this Kingdom.

The Grand Duchy of Radescu is inhabited by vampire nobility, as well as their human serfs/subjects. One could easily use Omnibus' 'Grand Duchy of Noapte' as a substitute for this dominion, but unfortunately I can't read Italian so I couldn't adapt it directly (although it appears to have a similar theme). In any event, this area would be an excellent place to run Ravenloft style adventures, as not only are there vampire lords ruling the Duchy, but they are also having to deal with the machinations of the Lich Lord in the neighbouring Kingdom of the Dead. The vampires of this duchy wish to maintain their independence, but the Lich Lord has other plans...

Shadowfell is a nation populated by shadow druids, who view most other human settlements as a blight on the land. As a consequence, they are very dangerous to deal with under most circumstances. The descendents of these druids were banished from the Druidic Union in the great Midland forest centuries ago, and eventually settled in their current location after a great migration northwards.

I've also included numerous human and humanoid tribes listed by Omnibus and/or Sturm in their maps.

Finally, it should be observed that the above notes and maps are my interpretation of this region only, and very little of it is based on canon (this is because there is almost no canon material for this region). Therefore, most of the above can be changed without causing contradictions to official source material.

Please feel free to point out any errors/omissions that you see! I'd also be interested in hearing other people's views regarding what might be in this region.