Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of honing the ideas and cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. This week, I look at the monster populations in the world.
Monsters v. Enemies
In every setting, there are tons of monsters. Each of these represents a threat to the adventurer, though sometimes they can simply be creatures out in the world. There is a large difference, though, between monsters and enemies. While monsters are likely creatures with very little sense of self or a naturally distorted and twisted worldview, enemies are creatures that have chosen for themselves the path they are on. Villians are a subclass of enemies that have taken on greater proportions within the campaign. For the purpose of these discussions, I am going to include oversized and dangerous animals as monsters, for simplicities sake.
Here, I’m going to leave enemies alone, leaving those to another time. While there are plenty of evil wizards, mad warlords and overambitious thieves, these should be left for another time. There are some creatures, however, that ride the line between enemy and monster. Creatures like Hobgoblins, Ogres and many Giants, that have a perpetually destructive and dangerous. These, for the sake of argument, I am going to classify with monsters. While there may be the occasional friendly ogre or the random Lawful Good Hobgoblin, they are almost always going to be an antagonist in the games storyline.
For the discussion of monsters, I am going to divide the continent into distinct geographical regions. These are close to the populated regions, but not perfect, as they represent a territory of monsters. Sometimes there are going to be areas that are intersecting and have a combination of monsters, but many are simply going to be their own, distinct areas. There are 11 Distinct regions on the map.
- Northern Scrublands
- Northern Forests
- Central Hills
- Blood Coast
- Southern Forests
- Drimmak Mountains
- Jets Swamp
Tundra – The tundra, unsurprisingly, is a cold and barren place. There are few trees, miles of ice and snow, and massive glaciers that cover much of the area. That said, there is still life, somehow, up in these regions. A few human and elven tribes live up in the area, eking out a meager existence hunting bears, Caribou, and surviving frost wolves, yeti, ice toads and the rare ice drakes and Frost Worms. Rumors of wooly elephantine people surface from time to time but never confirmed. Mastodons, Musk Oxen, and Woolly Rhino are fairly common as well, as are their natural predators, the Saber Tooth Tiger, and the greater Tundra Tiger. Its an unpleasant and cold life but some manage to make it work.
Ironarm Mountains – Just south of the Tundra, stretching from the east coast of the continent to the central portion is a large and intimidating set of mountains. Slightly lower than the Drimmak Mountains, this is still challenging terrain as its greater latitude and cooler temperatures generally make the mountains treacherous. Along the outskirts of the mountains, there are a few Thraxian tribes that live to the south, Levishans that live to the north and west, and a few Drimen enclaves on the eastern coast. On the ground, Owlbears, Mountain cats and Bears enjoy the secrecy of the many caves that dot the mountain range. Conifer treants and sasquatches wander the mountainside, as well as bands of Cyclops, native to the mountains here, and every once in a while someone will swear they saw a huge, hairless
Forest of Lev – To the south of the tundra and stretching from the west coast to the Ironarm mountains, stretches the great forest of Lev. Throughout, the Levishans have settlements, towns and small cities, leading to a generally tame forest, in terms of wild, marauding monsters. That is not to say, however, that the forest of Lev is safe. Spirits of the land, both malevolent and benign, are plentiful here, as they have not been actively pushed out by the civilized races. Few Centaurs make their home here, and they get along with the
The Northern Scrub – Below the Forest of Lev is a small band of rough scrubland. Littered with rock outcroppings, small forest glades, and tough, hearty grasses, this area makes surviving difficult. None the less, this area, spreading from Northern Killbar and covering almost all of old
Thrax – The Thraxian forest, or simply Thrax, is like many other lands, a harsh and brutal one. South of the Ironarm Mountains, East of the Scrublands and adjacent to Boodhunger Bay, it is surrounded by tough lands. Within, the
Northern Forests – Scattered across the northern portion of the Island, below the Scrubland and fairly parallel with Thrax are pockets of Northern Forest. Often dense with massive
Central Hills – The Central hills stretch from the borders of Killbar to the west down through to the greater part of Tyndaria and over to the Blood Coast. while it resembles the scrubland to the north visually, the grasses are greener and the winters a fair bit milder, so it is a much lusher and pleasant existence. That does not mean it is easy, though. All throughout here the mysterious Hrondring live their strange lives, integrating humanoid, animal and shape-shifting blood. They have many tribes, but the most renowned are the
The Blood Coast – This small region, directly around Bloodhunger Bay, is separate due to its proximity to the very dangerous and monster-filled bay. while in the bay itself are dangerous giant snapping turtles, the rare
The Southern Forests – The Southern forests stretch from the inside coast of Udine bay all the way to the Drimmak mountains. This comprises the vast majority of eastern Killbar as well as most of Tyndaria. This area, though populated, is still vast enough to harbor broad swaths of monsters, including many
The Drimmak Mountains – The Drimmak mountains, once the home to many dwarves, gnomes and half-giants, is now one of the most perilous lands on the continent. Populated by winter drakes, dragonkin, and giants of all kind, these themselves are threatened by southern wyverns, chimeras, and rocs that inhabit the upper reaches and high mountains. Abominable Snowmen, always
Jets Swamp – The Great, unnatural swamp to the south is the home of many, many different lizardmen, Frogmen, and turtlemen tribes, collectively referred to as “Jets Children”, as well as a plethora of lizard and amphibian draconian crossbreeds. Half dragon alligators, dire frogs, and other terrifying monstrosities exist all throughout the dangerous, massive swamp. Stirges have found a home here, feasting on many of the non-draconian lizards and dire amphibians. Catoblepas are fairly common, slow and deadly though they are. Many Giant insects, as well as spiders, ticks, leeches, and other terrifying creatures, thrive here, in the unnaturally warm weather. Naturally, Jet is the most dangerous creature in the area, but only just below him are the preponderance of many-headed hydras that live within the swamp, so common that they fight for territory and can be heard from great distances as they scream in combat.
These aren’t the only monsters that live in these areas, but it gives an idea of what does live there, and what could be used both as a typical monster and as a hook for something uncommon. Having lizardmen in the north, Chimeras in the hills or Winterdrakes on the Imerian peninsula tells a very specific story about that creature and can be an easy lead into a story, if desired.
Until next time,