The Vast Swamp
The southern forested wetlands of Aventyr make up the Vast Swamp, an area of tumultuous history rich with petty warlords and perpetual failures at subjugation. For most of its past the region was home to no more than tribes of boggards and barbarians; their primitive lives changed some 900 years ago when Tranak Blackscale made the swamp his domain. A black dragon with a passion for cruelty for its malicious sake, he enslaved creatures from the swamp to fulfill his wicked needs and amassed a veritable army of thralls. Over the centuries Tranak sired several children with different mates, all of whom met a grisly end when he decided they had outlived their usefulness (and more importantly, his interest). Eventually, the brood grew too large and Tranak’s children settled across the swamp in their own domains, quickly coming to blows with each other in skirmishes kept to a minimum by the overwhelming presence of their draconic father.
So it was until the year 497 when Tranak’s slaves rebelled against his tyrannical rule, forming a loose rebellion of swamp creatures under the bog troll Theeble Dead-eye. The dragon and his children fought together in what they perceived as an easy battle, but when Tranak and his two eldest were brought low by what the legends describe as a powerful secret weapon wielded by an unknown barbarian chieftain from an unnamed tribe, the six remaining children took flight and hid deep in the swamplands. Soon the alliance crumbled and boggards, trolls, and humans took up the roles they had before the arrival of Blackscale, fighting over small stretches of dry land in the otherwise inhospitable swamp.
101 years after his death Tranak’s children revealed their presence to the tribes of the swamp—all six dragons swept through it sowing death and destruction everywhere they went. In the following years, the dragons started to fight amongst themselves over territory and slaves, their conflicts occasionally shaking the swamp as two or sometimes more knocked each other’s massive bodies across the landscape. In 665 Satthruphar was killed in one such battle with Hatrumak, Tranak’s eldest remaining son. Upon realizing that they themselves were the biggest threat to their dominion, the dragons signed a magical treaty drawn by Hatrumak, dividing the swamp into five regions with a small area deemed neutral to all. Each laired in one of the different regions with the resources in each territory belonging to the dragon within though today the swamp still sees battles between the children of Blackscale (rare as these occurrences may be).
Not a hundred years after the Treaty Draconis, an innkeeper named Teth Aslody found a dry area east of the swamp near the Yerek Steppes; here he founded an inn named Cherrian’s Rest. It quickly became popular amongst the people traveling around the swamp until one day a small fire resulted in a massive explosion and the establishment burned down. That conflagration resulted in the discovery of black gold, an ebony sludge found naturally in the swamp that seems to feed flames—soon an export business was organized. The inn was rebuilt and a small community grew up around it; Teth died five years later and his nephew, Iramar, inherited Cherrian’s Rest along with his father’s share of the black gold operation. He set about making the enterprise much more effective and therefore profitable, and after a few years Iramar and the merchant families—which have shares in the operation—founded the Black Gold Consortium. These traders pretty much run the town of Cherrian’s Rest today, despite the mayor and council’s faulty belief of authority.
The mysterious ruins in the north of the Vast Swamp are abandoned by their equally mysterious builders.
The first human tribes settle in the Vast Swamp; they are quickly drawn into conflict with the boggards and trolls of the area. Small campaigns of extermination are waged by both sides for the next several centuries.
The Fields of Fire (south of where Cherrian’s Rest is located today) ignite for the first time—they burn for nearly a decade before extinguishing themselves.
Tranak Blackscale settles in the Vast Swamp, capturing slaves and territory from the tribes living nearby.
The slaves of Tranak Blackscale rebel and kill the cruel overlord in a fierce battle that becomes known to later generations as the Battle of Blackscales.
The five children of Tranak return and proceed to lay waste to great swathes of the swamp, driving several tribes to the brink of extinction.
Satthruphar is killed in battle with Hatrumak. The remaining dragons fortify their lairs but Hatrumak does not move against others after the battle with his sister.
At Hatrumak’s behest the black dragons of the swamp meet and sign the Treaty Draconis, bringing an end to the common infighting of the siblings.
The inn Cherrian’s Rest is founded and by sheer luck it is located in the region deemed neutral by the Treaty Draconis; no dragon moves against this new settlement.
The Black Gold Consortium is founded to make the extraction, handling, and transportation of black gold more effective—today they run Cherrian’s Rest.
The Black Gold Consortium begins considering sending expeditions into other areas of the Vast Swamp to find more sources of black gold.
Naming practices in the Vast Swamp follow tribal traditions from the time before Tranak Blackscale’s arrival. Surnames are usually descriptive, denoting one’s profession, a great deed, or even telling of a famous ancestor. Families in Cherrian’s Rest use surnames from the countries from which they originated.
Male Names: Chor, Elarl, Forthar, Joko, Marth, Rokar, Sleinar
Female Names: Dretha, Insalia, Leiza, Myrtha, Oliria, Reia, Tilka
Most of the the tribes in the Vast Swamp dwell there without any interference from anyone but themselves. The closer a tribe lives to a dragon’s lair, the less freedom it has, however; those who do not live in thrallbound servitude must at least offer great gifts and severe flattery from the delegations sent to the dragon to negotiate a perceived freedom for another year. This ritual of subjugation does not take place all over the swamp, but tribes within 1d4x10 miles of a dragon are all forced to participate.
This practice of flattery is unknown in the Muddy Mangroves; the King of Mud does not need the swamp to know of his existence just yet. While the dragons are considered the government in their respective regions, in Cherrian’s Rest a mayor and a council run the town—though the Black Gold Consortium is never left out of the loop and nothing happens unless they have been asked for their opinion, a thing Magistrate Alexander Gelmar is only too happy to give.
The Vast Swamp is in many ways unremarkable from other regions like it, filled with bogs and mangrove trees. Along the torn coast the water slowly progresses from salty to brackish, eventual filtering into freshwater that pervades the six distinctive regions of the swamp. While the dragons that live in five of the regions are of the same type, their individual desires and interests have shaped their abodes into vastly different landscapes over the course of a few centuries. Below are short introductions to each region, each bearing the names given in the Treaty Draconis.
The Tangled Forest
The domain of Hatrumak (the eldest of Tranak Blackscale’s surviving children, and an accomplished necromancer in his own right) is by far the darkest and most twisted of the draconic realms in the Vast Swamp. Once home to beautiful, serene scenes with mangrove trees and colorful birds, today plants stand in stale pools of poisonous swamp water, the vivid avians long gone. The closer to Hatrumak’s lair one journeys the more poisonous the landscape gets but before any travelers can get too close, they have to deal with the tribes of ghouls that prowl through the landscape. When Hatrumak drafted the Treaty Draconis he gave himself the northern part of the Vast Swamp: serene, vibrant bogs where Satthruphar was said to have her lair.
None of Blackscale’s offspring wanted the northern reaches, an area deemed worthless by Hatrumak’s siblings, but the dragon discovered ancient, mysterious ruins close to the border with Naera Cull. Hatrumak believes that the legendary secret weapon that killed his father is somehow connected to those ruins, and he deliberately killed Satthruphar to take over her domain before drafting the Treaty Draconis to ensure he could study his findings without interference from his siblings. If his brothers and sisters were to find out that he engineered the whole incident leading to the Treaty Draconis to further his own agenda, they would immediately move against him. However, should Hatrumak’s theories on the ancient ruins prove to be correct and should he discover the mysterious weapon, his siblings will be in for a surprise indeed.
Mire of Poison
Nestled in between the Tangled Forest and the Torn Coast lay a region home to the highest concentration of rare and poisonous plants—the ad-hoc realm of the self-appointed Queen of Poison, Allunhandra. Far and away the most elusive of the brethren of Tranak Blackscale, she is rarely seen; when she is observed, it is mostly by ships as she flies out over the coast and turns north. No one knows where she goes after that, most believing that she merely patrols her domain. The truth is far darker than mere roaming, however, as Allunhandra is, in fact, the notorious procurer of poisons for several cults all over Aventyr (where she goes by the name Granny Death, after her guise of a mild-looking elderly woman).
Allunhandra always travels under invisibility when flying over the Aventyr mainland but sometimes she does not cast the spell until well out over the Bay of Genthor. She does not care much for what her siblings are up to so long as they do not meddle in her affairs. Tranak always saw something special in his youngest daughter—it was she who traveled in human guise across the Vast Swamp to poison the barbarian chieftain who killed her beloved father while the rest of his children hid and cowered in fear. The dragon slayer’s death was not enough, however, and she watched with glee as the entire tribe succumbed to the poisoned drinking water. Allunhandra prefers humans as servants but even her most trusted minions do not know that she is, in fact, Granny Death. The dragon’s pride and joy is a small laboratory in which several captured alchemists slave away to produce new and potent toxins for their mistress.
The youngest of Tranak’s children, Trymgarx dwells in a muddy swampland so inhospitable that only boggards and other amphibians can eke out an existence. The water is always murky and dirty, the trees are dark and have patches of mud on their trunks that seems to grow bigger ever so slowly, and it is as if the land suffers from a presence vile beyond comprehension. In the aftermath of the Treaty Draconis, Trymgarx feared for his life after the death of his beloved sister Satthruphar—as the youngest he could not protect himself against Hatrumak, let alone avenge his sister. The dragonling sought the attention of beings powerful enough to protect him, bartering with demons he intended to be his bodyguards. It was only when the King of Mud set foot in the swamp that Trymgarx realized his mistake; the powerful hezrou had no intention of serving a dragon, instead taking Blackscale’s child as yet another trophy. Today Trymgarx the black dragon lies at the base of the King of Mud’s throne in the Bastion of Filth in the muddy swamp land.
The King of Mud sends his minions across the Vast Swamp and beyond to determine the best time for expanding his territory. The northern border of the Muddy Mangroves consists of hardened mud where the searing conditions of the Scorched Lands make the expansion impossible, prompting the King of Mud to turn his gaze south. Presently he considers the Mangrove Maze a thorn in his eye, the serene beauty of the place anathema to his own domain (seeded as it is with his dangerous servants), but Cherrian’s Rest stands between the two areas and invading the neutral territory would definitely attract unwanted attention from the dragons of the Vast Swamp. These considerations leave the King of Mud with only one other route of expansion: the Tangled Forest. He has increased the number of scouts sent into Hatrumak’s domain, causing more and more skirmishes between the two as a predictable result. So far his the dragon has deemed the losses to his undead servants beneath his notice, and has not moved against what he perceives as the unintelligent designs of an adolescent whelp.
Southeast of Cherrian’s Rest stand majestic groves of mangrove trees, an area that seems untouched by the dragon lairing within. While it is indeed inviting and bountiful in hunting, this is all a ruse to lure in unsuspecting travelers. Kallothrax is a devious, evil, and somewhat lazy dragon—why hunt when the prey can be led straight to him? His lair is submerged within a veritable maze of mangroves, creating a labyrinth filled by his servants; several tribes of boggards drive unfortunate victims deeper into the maze towards the waiting dragon, where he decides if they are to be prisoners to be toyed with or food.
While Kallothrax tries to keep the area looking inviting to lure in prey, there are signs of draconic infestation throughout it: slightly acidic water, twisted trees, and animal carcasses half-dissolved by acid. When the dragon is not brutalizing or torturing prisoners he has been known to attack some of the boats braving his domain to get to Cherrian’s Rest. These rare raids garner him slaves, prisoners, and food, but more importantly it sates a primal need to take flight and reign destruction; after sowing chaos to his satisfaction he can turn his attention back to his cruel games, much to the despair of his unfortunate prisoners. Recently Kallothrax discovered that the lightly guarded caravans of the Yerek Steppes to be easy pickings and in the southern steppes he is spoken of in hushed whispers, “lest you speak the Black Scourge’s name and he comes for you at dusk.”
The Jagged Coast
The southwestern coastline of the Vast Swamp consists of black rocks, a testament to prehistoric volcanic activity in the region. Dreivantix lairs deep within, so vile that his scales secrete a potent acid that leaks into the swamp waters, giving the bogs and marshes here slightly acidic properties (which increase in potency closer to his lair). The dragon formed the black coastal rocks himself, using his breath to make what looks like unnatural tears in the stones, as though some gigantic beast tried to claw its way into the swamp. He did so as a show of his power, terraforming the entire coastline into a testament to his strength. All of Dreivantix’s slaves display his draconic rune somewhere on their bodies, burned into their skin with claw and acid. He has no preference for a particular race of slaves—as long as they have a patch of skin to display his rune on their bodies.
Tomb of Satthruphar
This stretch of swampland is named after the dragon Satthruphar. Hatrumak lured her into the area and over the fields of fire, then used his claws, teeth, and spells to tire her before she fell into the fields, dying in the flaming inferno as her murderous brother circled above. By chance (or misfortune) this area was also where the Cherrian’s Rest inn was founded.
Ancient Ruins: In the north of the Tangled Forest are the mysterious remnants of an ancient city; none know who built it, or even how or why they did so. The half-submerged grey stone buildings lead to stone corridors that pierce deep into the swamp (some still dry, whereas others have been flooded for centuries). Most of the markings on the ruins have eroded into unrecognizable shapes, although the word Frothor is clearly visible on several buildings and its meaning continues to elude Hatrumak. The dragon has been actively trying to capture adventuring bands to force them to explore the area for him in exchange for their freedom (an offer he has yet to keep his word on) and a few months ago one such band brought back a stone depicting a battle between dragons and several different humanoid shapes. In his excitement Hatrumak almost forgot to eat the adventures, though his vile servants quickly remedied that mistake.
Queen’s Garden: Amid the mangroves stand several patches of brightly colored flowers—for a few minutes they seem a natural occurrence, but with a cursory investigation it becomes clear that they’ve been cultivated as there are distinct borders between the patches, and even small pathways to get through the garden without ruining the flowers. Here in the Mire of Poison is where Allunhandra’s alchemists experiment with different plants to perfect the poisons for their mistress in a small hidden laboratory somewhere nearby. These patches of cultivation are relatively new; the old garden had to be abandoned a decade ago when one of the flowers became so poisonous that in bloom it killed any creature that wandered too near. The old garden is located 5 miles to the east of the new garden, shunned by both the wildlife in the area as well as Allunhandra’s servants.
Bastion of Filth: Standing amongst the tallest specimens of the Muddy Mangroves, the Bastion of Filth pierces the green canopy with its swirling spires. The structure itself is made of wet mud that somehow still retains enough solidity to form floors and walls—it is shaped into exquisite crenellations and spires that mimic the architectural style of the grandest castles of the Klavek Kingdom. Within the Bastion of Filth demons and mud elementals serve the King of Mud’s every desire, and those that displease him are dealt with by Trymgarx in a suitably spectacular fashion. South of the Bastion of Filth is an area covered in a pall of dragonsbreath mist; within this madness-inducing haze there is an entrance to the feared Underworld swamp, the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh.
The Dreaming Fields: This dry area in the Mangrove Maze (near the Yerek Steppes) has various flowers that give off a mild narcotic as they bloom, causing humanoids and animals to drift off into sleep. There have been a few attempts to harvest the flowers to distill them into a recreational drug, but so far nearly all of these experiments have met with failure. Hathro Dunelle was behind the latest major attempt but has instead turned his attention to the unfortunate travelers that enter the fields. His men are using magical breathing covers to protect themselves and collect the sleeping unfortunates, which then awaken in chains bound for slavery somewhere on Aventyr.
Blackstone Fortress: This half overgrown fortress on the Jagged Coast is the lair of a tribe of green-scaled kobolds as well as several odd assassin vines that curiously do not attack the little reptilians. Located close to the region which contains Cherrian’s Rest the fortification offers the kobolds some measure of protection from Dreivantix (who lairs closer to the coast). Blackstone fortress was originally built by a forgotten warlord as an attempt to control the area but as so many other attempts to do so, only the ruins remain today as a reminder of the folly it is to try and tame the Vast Swamp.
Black Gold Island: This dry area west of Cherrian’s Rest is the premier extraction facility for the Black Gold Consortium’s operations in the Vast Swamp.
Fields of Fire: South of Cherrian’s Rest are massive areas of swamp so saturated with black gold that even the smallest spark can ignite them. They occasionally catch fire on their own but sometimes they get ignited by outside forces (such as in 665 when Hatrumak used them to kill Satthruphar). Unsubstantiated local legends claim the fields have been burning since before Tranak Blackscale’s arrival.
Kobolds are quite rare in the swamp proper but where the land is dry and the conditions ripe for plunder, the kobold tricksters of Traskoria can be found. These miscreants are all originally spawned from a place dubbed “Blackstone” by the little beasties, a large fortress half-buried in the Torn Coast region near the the border with Satthruphar.
One species of troll dominates nearly all of the black swamp—the bog troll raider. With a range of 40 miles these nasty creatures make life miserable for every humanoid attempting to eke out an existence here. There are two types of bog trolls: hunters which live in the wild, subsisting on a diet of bog toads and giant salamanders, and raiders which are much more dangerous to travelers and band together in groups of 4 or more to attack human ships moving through the Vast Swamp. The raiders consistently find their bellies full and their hidden treasure hordes well stocked, killing, cooking, and eating humanoids only after stripping them of all valuables. Then they hide their treasure somewhere deep in the swamp, sometimes forgetting where their spoils have been concealed.
Little is known of the boggard tribes of the Vast Swamp. Rumors persist of individuals lost in the bogs being kidnapped and sacrificed by the frog creatures to some ancient deity which has not been seen in the world for many centuries.
Several tribes of ghouls live in the north of the Vast Swamp, all of them under the thrall of Hatrumak. Ghouls can be found in all the regions but not in the same dense concentration as in the Tangled Forest.
The human barbarian tribes who call the Vast Swamp home are as varied and diverse as humans elsewhere in Aventyr. In the Mangrove Maze the Moonhowlers practice their vile hedonistic rituals, boasting a formidable proportion of lycanthropes among their number, while the Torn Coast’s Tribe of the Crocodile worships a large fiendish reptilian, and the demon-hunting Bloodclaw tribe in the Muddy Mangroves proves to be a constant nuisance to the King of Mud.
Hatrumak (CE Male very old black dragon wizard 9) Hatrumak is fond of manipulating his servants and enjoys making adventurers do his bidding (whether through intimidation or sweet lies).
Allunhandra (NE Female old black dragon alchemist 7) Allunhandra is a dragon with a strength of mind that is impressive even for one of her kind. When she sets her mind to complete a task nothing can stop her; when the opposition seems too strong she is perfectly willing to wait for a decade or two, knowing that she‘s destined to eventually outlive most opponents.
Trymgarx (CE Male mature adult black dragon) While he knows his dreams of power put him in an unwinnable situation, Trymgarx is unwilling to be reminded of his predicament. The dragon loathes his life as a plaything for the King of Mud but firmly believes that he shall one day have his revenge—a thought that is nearly all that prolongs his pitiful existence.
The King of Mud (CE Male hezrou ranger 6) This massive hezrou wields two filth-encrusted axes in battle and his dreams of conquest have dominated him entirely ever since he emerged from the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh.
Kallothrax (CE Male old black dragon sorcerer 8) This dragon is so vile that his skin secretes poison. Quite lazy, Kallothrax only takes to the air when prey is sparse in his domain.
Dreivantix (CE Male old black dragon wizard 7) Dreivantix has always been compared to Hatrumak and been found wanting. Still, his three-horned visage is used as the runic sign for horror in some tribes throughout his domain and he wields considerable influence in his region of the Vast Swamp.
Due to the versatility of the inhabitants and settlers in the Vast Swamp, the gods worshiped are equally diverse as well. There are however three major gods that enjoy a multitude of worshipers in the swampy environs.
The Natural Force is worshiped throughout the Vast Swamp by druids and shamans of the various tribes that inhabit the area. While this mysterious entity has always been worshipped on varying scales throughout history, recently there has been a surge in followers as an unexplained patch of mushrooms not native to the swamp recently flourished in the Jagged Coast area, inexplicably resisting all attempts by Dreivantrix to destroy it. The dragon’s destructive efforts have somewhat lessened as he has discovered the new influx of slaves and food from the pilgrims visiting the site.
The Muddy Mangroves has always been the center of the Current’s clergy in the Vast Swamp. It has been speculated that worship of the deep god is strong there due to its proximity to Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh and the peculiar properties of that accursed place. The King of Mud has so far welcomed the clergy of the Current as long as they continue to stay near the Slugmarsh and do not venture too close to his Bastion of Filth.
Finally Leahcim has taken root in the Vast Swamp, his trickster ways helping some daredevil rogues on their quest to lessen the burden of treasure on the vile dragons. It must be added that the tales of the rogues have become known but so far none have surfaced to verify these claims. Recently some inhabitants in the marshes have voiced their concerns—that these rumors are merely planted by Leahcim himself for some unknown reason—but the trickster god has plans and schemes no mere mortal can hope to discern.
Cherrian’s Rest has been the chief source of black gold for nearly two centuries—before the first bricks of the city were laid the Vast Swamp was the domain of a long line of black dragons. The Great Wyrm Tranak Blackscale reigned over all the creatures in the bogs, good and wicked, his brood growing so large that they were left with no choice but to seek out territory to the west and east. Ultimately he was defeated by a loose alliance of enslaved swamp creatures led by a courageous barbarian chieftain. After the climactic end the newly freed slaves tried to return to the ways of life they held before Tranak had claimed the area as his own. Trolls began pillaging, boggards hid in their small mud houses as goblin tribes warred with each other, and lizardfolk clans etched out a meager existence as small bands of human merchants tried to pass around the swamp on their way to more prosperous lands in the east. Other than the building of small camps in the bogs, it was scantly touched by humans for 300 years.
The founding of a seemingly insignificant inn called Cherrian’s Rest transformed everything in the Vast Swamp. Seeing the dry portion of land in the north and noting the need for a stop along the long road taken by merchants on their trek around the bogs, a brave innkeeper named Teth Aslody built the establishment and named it after his deceased wife. Under no circumstances did he know it was sitting on one of the most lucrative and rare resources the world has ever seen—until Teth lost everything.
One day while cooking a meal for some adventures his kitchen caught on fire. In a fright the old innkeeper and his guests collected water from the swamp in an effort to put out the blaze, but in their haste they had inadvertently scooped up what was to be called “black gold” instead. When Teth tried to put out the flames with the contents of the bucket he was thrown clear into the muck from the resulting explosion. Horrified, the adventures tried frantically to quell the flames but Teth`s beloved inn was too far gone.
The wizard of the group had a very keen eye and noted that when anyone emptied the blackened sludge water over the flames, the fire grew larger rather than diminish. When the mage told the party his observations they were able to control the flames before they extended into the whole swamp, but the tavern was devastated and the old man forced to rebuild it. Feeling somewhat guilt-ridden that it was their meal that caused the inferno, the group offered to escort the innkeeper to the nearest city. They all became fast friends and after a night at a campfire discussion, the adventurers found out that the old man was once a rich merchant and this was the second time he had lost almost everything and needed to rebuild. Teth kept some amount of his fortune hidden away for a time of need, however, and the money would be more than enough to rebuild his life once again.
This time the innkeeper had devised a plan after reading the wizard’s account of the explosion—the savvy old man knew that this black sludge would one day make him rich. Indebted of his new companions’ actions at trying to save his inn (and succeeding at saving his life), he offered to go into business with the adventurs. Old man Asoldy made the party promise that everything would be shared amongst them all equally, and together, they founded a small merchant consortium and extracted a modest amount of the sludgy black substance which he named “black gold.” Teth Asoldy passed away 5 years later and the business was tossed into anarchy as the adventures jockeyed for a bigger share of the profitable resource. Suffering from the brutal infighting and left severely weakened, when young Iramar Asold arrived to take over his uncle’s estate, Teth’s nephew saw that the groups was severely hampering the progress of the Black Gold Consortium, so he invited foreign merchant families to invest in it. Soon there were numerous elite traders flocking to become part of the venture and the other owners began to sell their shares. After they sold all their shares Iramar decided to call the new group of merchant families the Black Gold Consortium.
The founding of the Black Gold Consortium led to many changes to the area around the former inn; people flocked when offers to work for the Consortium spread and the settlement blossomed into a town, then a city as more and more settlers from different lands came to the area. New technologies based around the black sludge were invented, such as the gas lamps that light the city at night. Specially designed swamp boats with large rotating paddles and a shallow draft were developed to aid in the logistics required to transport more and more black gold. Ultimately over the course of 150 years, the cultures of the original colonizers have become distinct and unique, leaving behind archaic and useless traditions in favor of a way of life better suited to the Vast Swamp.
Cherrian’s Rest (settlement statblock)
Neutral small city
Modifiers Crime +0, Economy +2, Law -2, Lore +0, Society +4
Qualities Insular, Notorious, Prosperous, Strategic Location
Iramar Aslody, Head of the Black Gold Consortium (LN Male human [Klavek] expert 5)
Base Value 6,827 gp; Purchase Limit 56,250 gp; Spellcasting 6th
Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 1d6
One species of troll dominates nearly all of the black swamp—the bog troll (raider located here). With a range of 40 miles these nasty creatures make life miserable for every humanoid attempting to eke out an existence here. There are two types of bog trolls: hunters which live in the wild, subsisting on a diet of bog toads and giant salamanders, and raiders which are much more dangerous to travelers and band together in groups of 4 or more to attack human ships moving through the Vast Swamp. The raiders consistently find their bellies full and their hidden treasure hordes well stocked, killing, cooking, and eating humanoids only after stripping them of all valuables. Then they hide their treasure somewhere deep in the swamp, sometimes forgetting where their spoils have been concealed.
Humans are the most predominant race of the Vast Swamp and the most unpredictable. They can fill any role in the consortium, often taking on multiple tasks in the community as well; almost every human in the swamp has worked for the Black Gold Consortium at one time or another.
In its early years small skirmishes broke out between factions of the Black Gold Consortium—small scale warfare left the Gelmar, Asoldy, and Celfal families scrambling for soldiers. Seeing the opening niche in the swamp, a regiment of hardened ratfolk crossbow troops were employed to bolster the might of these families. The kin of the marksmen came into the swamp after their relatives decided to settle and there is now a saying: on every corner of the market in Cherrian’s Rest there’s a ratfolk peddler selling his wares (even when the gold dries up).
Halflings are often called upon when the Black Gold Consortium needs something done in a tight spot. Small folk can often find employment cleaning or fixing in-between the cogs of extraction centers, or removing blockages in tall chimneys or long pipes; the work is always dangerous, so they expect to be paid well. The Neliton family is one of the core families in the consortium and in charge of halfling relations in Cherrian’s Rest. The family’s easy going nature has protected them from the internal conflicts of the consortium—they love to show off their strong sense of fashion. The Nelitons are the trendsetting family of the Consortium, often wearing the finest garments and jewels just to show off their lavishness and to invoke the jealousy of the other families.
Magic is used by the Black Gold Consortium to speed up extraction and enhance the efficiency of its workers, tasks excelled at by elven mages and alchemists—it spends a hefty sum to these scholars if they can provide results. Elves reluctantly take the money for their services but their true reasons for inhabiting the area remain hidden from the Black Gold Consortium. The elves’ love of nature is always paramount and the reason why they are truly working with them is to see that the business does not damage the ecosystem of the swamp. Magic means of extraction are cleaner and less damaging to the area, and there are whispers of a secret order of elven saboteurs who work towards stopping any forms of extraction that the elves do not approve of.
Usually half-orcs are viewed with distrust and fear, but unlike the rest of the world, in the Vast Swamp a they are regarded as a valuable asset to the Black Gold Consortium. Due to their strength, half-orcs often find work on the loading docks of the extraction facilities. Hailing from lands far away and arriving in seemingly ceaseless caravans called “Olive Wagons”, escaped half-orc slaves and half-orc wanderers alike often find new homes in the bogs and marshes of the Vast Swamp.
The infamous background of tieflings leaves many on the fringes of normal society but in the Vast Swamp any race is welcome so long as they have gold. Demon-touched find the swamp to be an oasis amongst a hostile world and to some the bogs even have a smell that appeals to their brimstone-tinged nostrils. Hellspawn in particular are called upon to manage many of the facilities of the Black Gold Consortium, their knack of keeping to rigid timelines and organizing even the most hectic of extraction facilities leaving them well-suited as supervisors.
The only dwarves living in the Vast Swamp tend to have migrated from human lands or live below ground in the Underswamp, a foul smelling place filled with the muck which drips from above and the noxious gases that fuel the flames of the Fire Fields. There are even rumors of the Black Sea, an Underworld sea made from pure oil upon which stout folk ships sail. Thus far these have proven to be rumors and exaggeration of adventurers, as the only true source of oil to date has been found by drilling in Vast Swamp itself.
Little is known of the boggard tribes of the Vast Swamp. Rumors persist of individuals lost in the swamp being kidnapped and sacrificed by these frog-like creatures, in worship to some ancient deity which has remained unseen in the world for many centuries.
Kobolds are quite rare in the swamp proper but where the land is dry and the conditions ripe for plunder, the tricksters of Traskoria can be found. These miscreants all originally spawned from one location dubbed “Blackstone” by the little beasties, a large half-buried fortress overgrown with dangerous plants such as assassin vines (though the malicious plants mysteriously do not attack the ample population of kobolds around them).
Five black dragons live within Traskoria (the Vast Swamp) and have done so for hundreds of years. They once warred with one another over territory and spoils but signed a magical pact two hundred years ago to divide up the region and stop the fighting. Ever since then the bogs and marshes have become much quieter, but every once in awhile one of the dragons goes on a rampage, destroying any humanoid settlements within his or her section of the realm then claiming all the riches and slaves as their own.