The winters on the Klavekian Grasslands last seven to nine months. Temperatures vary from −40 °C to 36 °C throughout the year. The summers are short but sometimes even hot, with plant life exploding as to make up for a whole year in but a few weeks.
The grassy plains in the Klavekian lowlands are a very windy area, with winds often blowing upwards of 40–90 km/h. It lies on top of permanently frozen soil called permafrost.
During the spring, the permafrost thaws just enough to let plants grow and reproduce. The ground below it stays frozen though, so the water can’t sink low, and so forms the streams, lakes and marshes found during the snowless months.
Rivers of the Klavekian Grassland flow over the same permafrost, so they erode their banks rather than the bottoms. They usually consist of countless channels, and can be difficult to cross. Most of them dry out after the end of the thawing period, leaving not many traces behind them until the next spring.
Most of the permanent rivers freeze to the bottom in some places. Water breaks the ice and then freezes on top of it. These ice plugs, called naled in the region, often don’t melt until the next autumn. If this happens on the important Serpent Tail River, which connects the Klavekian mainlands to the Serpent Lake, it’s a major obstacle for trade, so the government sends spellcasters to remove these dangers by magical fire. Travel is not easy in these times of the year, and sometimes there are casualties in spite of the government efforts. Locals want the magicians to be permanently located near their villages, or at least for the duration of winter, but that has not been ordered so far despite of the protests.
As soon as the snow melts, the “Klavekian Pervenets” (The Firstborn) grows up thickly around the rivers and lakes. This huge grassy plant announces the start of the growing season after the winter is gone. Its juice has a sweet taste, but leaves blisters and sores on the skin that ache for months and has a 50% chance of lowering the dexterity score by one point until healed. The people of the three villages extract a form of sweet sugar out of it, and also distill wine that produces wonderful dreams after just one or two glasses. The dreams can carry portents sometimes; there is a 5% chance per glass drunk, up to a maximum of 10%, that the drinker can cast augury like a caster of third level right after waking up, regardless of his real class level or even if she is no spellcaster at all. The augury may happen or not, but another side effect does always take place; in the morning the drinker feels miserable and is nauseated for the next three hours per glass imbibed. Strangely the wine distilled out of Klavekian Pervenets as well as the juice itself loses its potency after only three days, so transporting it to larger markets is a huge challenge.
Maybe even better known in Klavek is one kind of plant that appears shortly after the Firstborn, but keeps growing in huge patches until late autumn. Talgana is a truly giant herb that reaches up to 3,5ms in height, a remarkable example of the famously tall forms of Klavek flora. In autumn, the stems can hide a wooly rhino easily. Inside the thickets, the sun and skies are hidden by the broad leaves, and bears’ paths cleave the wall of stems like tunnels. Talgana’s leaves are soft and its stems are easy to move apart with hands or a stick. Its young sprouts are edible, so much so that for bears they are a remedy against hunger in the early summer when there are neither berries nor fish yet. In winter-time, with snow on their umbels, these giants look like exotic trees, and numerous stories for children link them to fairies, but such a link is not proven by sages. They finally cave-in under their white burden when winter takes its course.
Aside from these endemic plants, this region supports numerous other species of rare flora, particularly grasses, herbs and shrubs. These shrublands are difficult to cross and full of bugs and other insects in summer, but they are a much better place than the neighboring regions for surviving the winter. A lot of wildlife uses them as shelter.
One of the world’s largest herds of moose breeds in the Klavekian Grasslands, and there are three kinds of elk living here, from the smaller normal elks up to the river elk and then onto the megaloceras, but all in all the region is known for its megafauna. Vast herds travel the flatland, most of them following the seasons by going north in spring and south in autumn. They are followed by their predators like the smilodons or ice trolls in most cases, but there are exceptions to the hunting techniques used by creatures such as this, as described in the next paragraph.
One of the greatest predators in the Grasslands is the addanc, which lives like a beaver and builds dams. When prey tries to cross the water in its territory, it attacks like a crocodile. The various oozes of the region, most notably the grey ooze, the glacial ooze and the white pudding, also tend to be lurking hunters. However, the king of the Grasslands is the one-eyed frostwurm, which even attacks herds of mammoth. It radiates cold, is 35 feet long and weighs 8,000 pounds.
Other strange hunters include the flightless Ahlinni-birds or the hunting parties of Mimi, the sole fairy of the Grasslands, which have their villages mostly in the nearby forest, but roam the plains for prey. Also on the plains are the fogwarden (spelt the same for singular and plurals), aberrations that look like fog taking a humanoid form. The sight of their ice blue eyes has doomed more than one adventurer who had seen herself as a predator, not prey.
Maybe the most unusual species for this environment is the Kolasuchus, an amphibian, because it is known for surviving deep freezes, as low as -35 to -40°C. In some cases Kolasuchi have been known to remain frozen in permafrost for years, and after thawing, just walking off.
Place of interest
One of the few permanent lakes in the Klavekian Grassland is Lake Voltaran, an enormous flooded volcanic caldera where more than a million salmon gather and spawn every year. The water is warm and doesn’t freeze in winter due to volcanic activity or a quasi-dormant gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire, depending on what sage you are listening to. The lake is a lifesaver for many species in the dead of winter, prey or predator, but a hunting ground for very dangerous monsters also. Travelers are wise to avoid it if their lifes don’t depend on its warmth.