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Let’s Make a Hexcrawl Setting


First Post
Let’s Make a Hexcrawl Setting

Tour of the Shrouded Lands

You’ve heard of the incredible firebirds, but this is the first one you’ve ever seen. It shimmers like the hearth in your home, like the hair of a beautiful woman, like the sun itself, and the sky and the water and the distant mountains seem to brighten in its presence.

A flying viper latches on to its head and tries to swallow it whole. The two plummet to the ground, where an ibis pecks at them.

There is a weird and sometimes funny melancholy to the Shrouded Lands that lie near the edge of the world. The gods – for all the praise of priests – are strange and inhuman. The animals – such as the mongrel dogs that birthed in whole packs like ants – are twisted reflections of what you might expect to find. The people – and note, I do not say ‘the humans’ … well, one quivers in a lonely hut, one sits motionless prophesying for her chimerical goddess and one fuses the heads of those he kills to his body, making a screaming, arguing, genius mess.

Let me be your guide to the Shrouded Lands. We shall start at the Pool of the Firebirds. To the west, the endless Ocean of Bitter Regrets. Winging east over the Draugmere Peaks, passing the relentless Grey Mountains to the north, we come to the Kingswood. Jealously guarded by the elves, it is death to walk among its trees by day but humans have cut a path beneath it – the Welt Road.

The Welt Road surfaces at the Lands of the Night Cattle, where they graze their cattle under the moon so as to keep their hides pure white and untouched by sun. The Welt Road continues north to Titan’s Skull, the great fastness of the dwarves. If we continue our passage east, we pass through the Withered Moors and come to the World’s Edge: a great cliff which stretches north and south for many miles above the jungles that lie far below.

We return now to the Lands of the Night Cattle and take the Welt Road back, this time heading south along the White Road to the City of Shuttered Windows. Its walls stand tall and unmoving, but the city itself is sinking into the ground. The Shuttered City is on the shore of the Keening Sea, and as we head south-east we come to the gnoll-ridden Burning Lands. Of these lands we will say little, except that beyond them still are the Twelve Nations, or what remains of them.

These are the great sites of the Shrouded Lands – unless you have others that you wish to tell me of?

What is the Shrouded Lands?

The Shrouded Lands is a collaborative fantasy RPG setting. It is a map of a world for use with D&D or other roleplaying games. 'Collaborative' means that YOU can contribute to it. The Shrouded Lands is awesome because contributors are required to connect their ideas to something that someone else has written about previously. This encourages people to riff off each other, producing emergent content that nobody could really see coming. As a bonus, it also ensures that the setting is tightly woven together rather than composed of discrete elements.

OK, I want to contribute. What should I do?

There's only a few rules to govern what you can and can't add to the Shrouded Lands. First and most importantly, you need to make at least one connection to a previous post by another poster. Also, you should try to make a list of 'hooks' at the end of your post for other people to expand upon. Usually a hook is a question about something in your post, which someone else can answer. Hooks are great because if you can't think of anything to write about something, then you can just let someone else do it for you.

The other rules are just organisational stuff:
-Don't write up any stats or anything else that's system-specific. For now, we want the Shrouded Lands to be equally usable for any D&D system.
-Don't place any locations outside the map. The map is plenty big enough already! (You can make reference to other places; but assume that they aren't accessible to the PCs.)
-Tie your entry to a hex on the map. This can be an uncharted hex, or one that's already been described, in which case you should consider how your entry relates to whatever is already there.
-Each hex is 6 miles across.
-All posts are to be made under the Creative Commons license (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (Unported), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 )

The easiest way to contribute is just to read some of the entries, pick one of the hook-questions and start answering it. The alternative method is to start with an idea and then try to fit it into the Shrouded Lands, which also works well.

Alright, I'm going to add something - whoa, this thing is long!

Yeah. We've written a lot about the Shrouded Lands already - well over 50,000 words. This is pretty daunting to a newcomer. However, you should know that you don't have to read every last word before you're 'allowed' to contribute. In fact, you only really need to read one entry and riff off that. If you're worried that you're going to write something that's 'wrong' or 'not canon', don't sweat it. A lot of the coolest bits of the Shrouded Lands so far have come out of trying to reconcile some sort of continuity problem. For example, a man who had accidentally been given two different first names became a man who actually shapeshifts into another man entirely.

If you are still uncertain about how your contribution fits into the Lands, then below are a series of short 'briefings' to explain the most important regions, races and characters in the setting. For a more comprehensive survey of different creatures and races, see the Appendices.

The Kingswood: A large forest inhabited by mysterious and hostile elves. An elven holt lies at the centre. Dark fairytale flavor.
The City of Shuttered Windows: Largest city in the Lands, ancient and labyrinthine. Very slowly sinking into the ground. Strongly religious. Feels like Vornheim crossed with Venice. (Also called 'Shuttered' or 'The Shuttered City'.)
The Duchy of Thring: Large Arthurian nation with knights, counts and castles. Worships the Green Lady. Bizarre laws.
The World's Edge and Beyond: Vast cliffs sinking down to an uninhabited (?) temperate basin. Many strange monsters.
Lands of the Night Cattle: The Night Men and their cattle only come out at night. Their albino cattle are used in rituals by most religions in the Shrouded Lands.
The Freeholds: Lawless region dotted with independent keeps and towns. Something of a wild west vibe.
The Welt Road: Trade route that passes through a long tunnel under the Kingswood, avoiding the dangerous elves. Connects the Lands of th Night Cattle to the Freeholds.
The Grey Mountains: Northern mountain range inhabited by dwarves and orcs.
The Bitter Coast: Western sea frequented by pirates and Pirate Kings - storm giants who ride in flying cloud castles.
The Keening Sea: Large eastern sea with ships from Shuttered and Blind Midshotgatepool.
The Barrier Range: Mountains between Thring and the Shuttered City. Inhabited by Witch Clans - inbred tribesmen with the hereditary power to cast one particular spell at-will.
Blind Midshotgatepool: Five towns that grew together into a bureaucratic nightmare of a city. Founded by Thringmen but now subjugated by the City of Shuttered Windows.
Bergolast: Ruined city which once held the Tarrasque captive, but was later destroyed. Those who drank the blood of the Tarrasque became trolls or immortals.
The Burning Lands: Hot deserts, sometimes literally on fire. Inhabited by dwarves, painted elephants and gnolls.
The City of Smoke: Gnollish city in the far southeast. Ruled by the Great Mother, matriarch who murdered and devoured her predecessors.
The Hills of Gore: Region ruled by the Lords Sanguine, former butchers who overthrew their kings and became immortal through Tarrasque blood. Mostly undescribed.
The Cornfields: Fields inhabited by tooth-stealing corn farmers. Mostly undescribed.
The Devil's Fingers: Mountains (?) with a ruined city and a tribe of cave-dwelling gnomes. Mostly undescribed.

(where unspecified, assume similarity to D&D norms)
Gnolls: Gnolls are relatively civilised. A gnoll could be a PC. They have their own city, a matriarchal society, a college for bards. Still pretty violent and barbaric though. They dwell primarily in the Burning Lands.
Orcs: Also somewhat civilised, though still warlike. An orc could be a PC. They are builders as well as raiders, and dwell mostly in the north.
Goblins: Have a spiritual connection to oak trees.
Trolls: Were originally humans who drank the blood of the Tarrasque.
Ettins: Have only recently come into the world (as far as we know). Are named after Alvise Etienne, the first Ettin, created by the wizard Severard.
Elves: Are pre-Tolkien - fey, mysterious and capricious. An Elf could probably not be a PC. They rarely leave the Kingswood, and deal harshly with those who enter it.
Gnomes: (Sometimes) live inside the walls of giants' castles.

Gods and Godesses
Alberon: God of the City of Shuttered Windows. Whether he has any other portfolio beside this city is unclear. Spurned the godesses She Who Waits and the Green Lady, slew the goddess Tiamat, fought a war with the goddess Chimalia. (He doesn't get on well with goddesses, apparently.) Cults: The Temple Indivisible and the Temple Invisible.
She Who Waits: A nameless underworld goddess spurned by Alberon.Possibly the cause of the Shuttered City sinking into the ground. Tries each night to trap the sun-god, the King in Splendour, in her dark realm. Cult: The Whispering Sisterhood.
The King in Splendor: Dual-identity sun-god who rises each day as the Lion in Splendour and descends into the underworld at night to become the King in Splendor. Cult: The Lion Priests.
Tiamat: Dragon-goddess who was killed by the god Alberon. Still has a small cult. Is the mother and sister of Chimalia.
Chimalia: Goddess of chimerical (half-and-half) monsters, particularly minotaurs. Sister and daughter of Tiamat. Her symbol is a labyrinth.

Famous Figures
The Tarrasque: The Tarrasque used to be chained up in the city of Bergolast, where the citizens drank its blood to gain immortality. That turned them into trolls. Since then the Tarrasque has escaped. It doesn't ravage the land unless you make it angry. In Thring it is called the Questing Beast and they hunt it, but never manage to kill it.
Severard of the Seven Chins: Highly powerful wizard who was apparently something of a dick, though not outright evil. Is now presumed dead.
Trimoueil, Exiled Poet: Author of several well-known poems and plays. Where he is exiled from has not yet been described.
The Founders of Blind Midshotgatepool: Five heroes who founded the five towns that make up the city. One of these was Ban the Clever, founder of Banshot.

Up to date map: http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/1543/april11map.png (note the white bits in the NE quadrant indicate tentative borders of regions, not described hexes and the bits of coastline that go through blank hexes are also tentative)
Map with region labels: http://img839.imageshack.us/img839/439/shroudedlandswithhexes1.jpg (a bit out of date now)
Map with labels: http://img17.imageshack.us/img17/5796/shroudedlandshexes.jpg (a bit out of date now)
Map with labels and tentative borders: http://img840.imageshack.us/img840/1710/shroudedlandsborders.jpg (a bit out of date now)

Revised hex description archive:
Appendixes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RSDxh6tf8NPIVKxggHx0jYgHLJsV94sECIhs76R1Ovg/edit
Hex index: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6z-iUIH4P8aeU1WYWhqNktBSjA/edit

Credit: the introduction (the paragraphs above the line) was written by Sanglorian, one of the contributors to this project, and edited and added to a bit by me.


Entry #1: The Pool of the Firebirds
Type: Hex Description (Hex 04.05)

High in the mountains, a series of hot springs feed into a steaming pool where the beautiful and elusive firebirds fly from their distant nesting grounds to splash and cavort. In a series of mist-shrouded waterfalls, the overflowing waters of the pool flow down to the valley floor far below.

As long as a firebird lives, its feathers give off a warm glow as of a bonfire just past its peak and a single caged bird can easily light an entire feasting hall throughout the night. Many of sought to brave the dangers of the mountains to capture a living firebird, but the cliffs below the Pool have proven steep and the perils many…

Hooks (I’ll include a lot for this first one):
-Who would be interested in buying a captured firebird? Who already owns at least one? Why?
-Who has succeeded and capturing a firebird?
-Can firebirds be used as a material component for any magic? Are they favored as sacrifices by any cult?
-Does the pool have any magical properties?
-Where do the firebirds nest?
-What is the origin of the firebirds?
-What dangers lurk in this hex?
-Why are there so many hot springs here?
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First Post
Eh, sure I'll take a shot at this.

Entry #2: The Glass Rapids
Type: Hex Description (Hex #05.05)

A rushing river breaks the silence of the otherwise smooth stone landscape, the rocks just beneath its surface strangely crystalline in appearance, and deadly for one caught in the fast flow of the current. The river flows several miles to the south-east before pouring abruptly into a gaping hole in the ground. At night, strange, almost festive sounds come from the caves in the hole, and the riverbed glows with a soft green light

-Who or what lives in the caverns beneath the river?
-Are the river rocks magical? Valuable? Is it even possible to safely retrieve them from among the rapids?
-How deep does the underground river run?
-Why does the landscape seem so unnaturally smooth around the river?


First Post
Comment was too long: basically in order to hook your entry to mine I'll have the source of your river be my pool. It'll be hard until we have a few more entries, but try to connect each entry to a previous one in some way.


First Post
Comment was too long: basically in order to hook your entry to mine I'll have the source of your river be my pool. It'll be hard until we have a few more entries, but try to connect each entry to a previous one in some way.
That was my thought too, and the reason I choose to place a river next to a mountainous setting with high-up water. You'll note the river flows south-east, i.e. directly away from your hex. It'd make sense for the water to be coming from there, and I figured that'd make it easy to connect them. ;)


I'm participating!

Entry #3: KFE!
Type: NPC/location description (Hex #15.07)

KFE or "Keith's southern Fried Entrails" is a local eatery that is popular among those who would enjoy entrails. Captain Keith uses he secret spice recipe and his patented "southern" style frying technique to cook some tasty entrails. What people don't know is that "southern" style frying uses the power of the mystical river rocks from the Glass Rapids!

What other strange indigents would KFE require?
How did Keith get the rank of Captain? Is there an army nearby? Was there a war?
Are there any other eateries that would rival KFE?
Who invented the idea of frying entrails?

the Jester

Looks like a fun project to participate in. :)

Entry #4: The Glass River Winery (Hex # 05.04)
Type: Hex Description/NPC location

Abutting the flat stone plains that the Glass River runs through is an unusual winery whose proprietor, Abdul Zassiz, is well-known locally for being a rather shady character. Although Abdul masquerades as a normal human vintner, he is actually a tiefling in disguise (in pre-4e, his tiefling features are easily concealed; in 4e, he is mutilated or has undergone a strange form of surgery to remove his obvious tiefling traits).

Abdul treats his customers fairly, but they always feel as though they have been swindled or tricked somehow. The few individuals who have visited the winery after dark always report that the place is full to the brim with scurrilous characters after sunset, yet nobody ever sees those same characters elsewhere. Despite all of this, his customers tend to come back for more, as his wine is of exceptional quality.

-Who are Abdul's after-dark customers? Where do they come from and where do they go?
-Why does Abdul maintain the fiction that he is human rather than tiefling?
-With no grapes at hand, how does he make his wine?
-Despite their fair treatment, why does everyone think Abdul is so shady?

Jacob Marley

First Post
Cool idea!

Hex 03.04 - The Monastery (mountains)

A cadre of dwarves has set up a small monastery overlooking the Pool of the Firebirds. Occasionally, the dwarves travel in pairs - never more than two, never less than two - to the pool to collect small orange stones. Outside of the monastery the dwarves will interact with others in a friendly manner. However, they will never speak about what happens inside their monastery. Each dwarf carries an iron symbol shaped as a firebird.

A dwarf vagrant also roams these lands; he claims to be the former master of the monastery who was driven out during a coup d'etat. He claims that an evil presenece has taken hold of his former students.

Who are the dwarven monks?
Why are they collecting small orange stones?
Who is the dwarf vagrant?
What is happening inside the monastery?


First Post
This one connects with Jacob Marley's post:

The Shrine of Father Dorek
Type: Hex Description (Hex 03.07), NPC description and background information.

In the rocky hills of this hex, the vagrant dwarf maintains a small shrine dug into a hillside where as small fire is kept eternally burning with a slow smoky blaze. No matter how far the vagrant dwarf wanders, he always returns here to feed the fire and look mournfully into its flames.

This dwarf, once known as Father Dorek when he led the monastery, was of the habit of taking long walks in the forgotten tunnels beneath the dwarven monastery while contemplating the mysteries of the divine. On one such ramble, he came across a passage of tunnel that radiated heat and when he ran his hands along the tunnel wall the warm areas spelled out the dwarven Forge Rune, or at least so Dorek claimed.

Excitement raced through the old dwarf and he quickly sent for mining equipment and delved into the rock for the source of the heat. There he found, encased in the rock, a being of fire and smoke. To Father Dorek, this creature could only be an avatar of The Drinker of Iron (whose symbol is a firebird), the dwarven god of the forge, and he set about freeing the creature from the rock that imprisoned it.

Alarmed at Father Dorek’s heresy, and even more alarmed at the thought of a monster loose in their halls, the Brothers of the monastery ousted Father Dorek from his position and his home. Too afraid to confront the being of fire and smoke, they redirected the flow of the springs of the mountain to pour through the tunnel where Dorek found the creature, hoping that water would rob the creature of its power.

So far it seems that the plan of the dwarven Brothers has worked. That spring water, heated by the imprisoned being of fire and smoke, now pours out in the Pool of the Firebirds. At night, strange cries from deep in the mountain can be heard by the dwarven monks and strange orange rocks have begun to turn up at the Pool of the Firebirds. These rocks, perhaps the tears of their prisoner, become smoky orange gems of breathtaking beauty when cut correctly. Every so often two dwarves of the monastery are chosen by lot to venture to the Pool of the Firebirds, one to gather the orange stones and one to ensure that the gatherer keeps none for himself.

-What exactly is the being of fire and smoke? Was Dorek right about it? Or is it a demon? An elemental? A demigod? How did it wind up imprisoned in solid rock?
-Do the gems that are cut from the orange stones have any interesting properties?
-Who do the dwarves sell the gems to? What have they done with their new income?
-What would happen if the being of fire and smoke ever broke free? What is the vagrant dwarf doing to make this happen?
-Is there anything else of interest in hex 03.07?
-What else is down there in the tunnels beneath the monastery?


First Post
I've updated the map and have collated all of the entries together into a complete write-up and have edited them both into the OP.

SnowleopardVK: excellent, we're thinking along exactly the same lines then :)
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Jacob Marley

First Post
Okay, one more before bed. (This is too fun!)

Hex 03.08 - Uncle Bertie's Trading Post (plains)

Here, where the high plains meet the foothills stands the small outpost known as Uncle Bertie's Trading Post. Hunters and trappers come here to resupply before heading out into the foothills and mountains nearby. Uncle Bertie's also offers space in a large hall for people to rest in as well as some poor quality food and ale - often, sausage with goat cheese and turnips.

Uncle Bertie's is owned and opperated by tough, no-nonsense retired adventurer named Maris. She set up shop here some fifteen years ago after a short (but profitable!) career as an adventurer. She is assisted by a goblin known as Shep whose life she saved from a vicious boar. Shep is greatful to Maris and assists her willingly, but secretly longs to return to his tribe. Only his fear of the boar keeps him at the Trading Post.

Hunters and trappers have been commenting on a strange site nearby - an everburning fire! - who, or what, made this strange site?

Supplies are running low and Maris is growing worried that something has happened to her supply caravan.

Why did Maris name her trading post Uncle Bertie's?

Who is this strange little goblin hanging around? Is he a spy? Are there more nearby?

What happened to Old Willie the trapper? He has not been seen in over three months!


First Post

Hex 06.10 (plains)

Within this hex lies a squat ziggurat made of blocks carved from greenschist. It has been overgrown with exotic vines bearing violet flowers not native to the region.

The vegetation transforms into grasping pythons when climbed upon, pulling the unwary inside and feeding them to the snake-demon imprisoned within.

The violet flowers that blossom on the vines can be brewed into a narcotic tea that offers a sense of euphoria. Knowledgeable characters can brew a tea that offers resistance to poison.

Shep the goblin from hex 03.08 gathers the tea for sale in Uncle Bertie's Trading Post at Maris' behest. He is jealous of his treasure and will lead others to their doom.

- How is the snake-demon imprisoned?
- Who imprisoned it?
- How does Shep gather the tea without being killed?


First Post
Hex 13.08 (plains)

Within this hex lies a pleasant farming village, overgrown with webs glistening in the daylight. The webs pose a danger: the webs are as strong as steel. The glistening patterns (in daylight only) pose a threat to the mind, drawing characters into a maze of tunnels, which close behind them.

This is the den of a spider of foul intelligence and her brood. From her creche, which she never leaves, she can manipulate the web. She will open and close paths to lead characters to her, but she relies on vibrations from the web to locate her prey. Once they reach her, she will trap them and store them to feed her hungry children. She is fond of conversation and will spare those who converse with her - until the other, more boring food runs out, that is.

Characters who move carefully through the webs will find that they provide a safe place to rest.

Exploring the well-made houses reveals the skeletons of large families, many livestock, good tools, and some luxury goods.

Captain Keith from 15.07 once found himself trapped within the spider's lair, but was able to convince her to let him go after spinning wondrous tales. Now he has a deal with the spider: in exchange for more tales, which he collects from visitors to his eatery, he gathers the entrails and riches of her victims. He has been known to lead adventurers to their doom here - especially wealthy ones.

- Who is the spider keeping alive in her den?
- Where have the inhabitants of this place gone? What would they do to get their homes back?
- Where can one find the cure for ghoulism?
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Wandering - The Giant's Riddle

A nameless Storm Giant wanders the wilderness (Hexes 15.07 to 09.10 and to 03.08), accosting all he meets with a wager. For 10 gold, he will give a listener 3 chances to guess his riddle - about an item that he has crafted (and carrying with him in a chest). Those who win the wager win the item. The Giant changes his riddle for each new item he crafts, which is easily 20-100 times the wager fee. It generally takes him between a week and a month to craft a new item.

The Storm Giant makes regular visits to Uncle Bertie's Trading Post and KFE, where he gets most of his wagers. He knows of, and refuses to deal with Abdul and his winery.

An example riddle:

"Seabound stone of ivory
In silver chains of three and three
The proud prize of Neptune
Taken, not given, by the hand of man
To adorn the heart of lady's vanity."

Answer (and prize), a pearl necklace.
- Where is the giant's real home?
- Why does he engage in a game of riddles for his items?


First Post
Another one from me. :) What's with me and underground stuff anyways?

The Tashtan Plains
Type: Plain (Hex #02.08)

The low hills of these grassy plains are quiet here, though not eerily so. Small animals graze the grass, the sun and moon shine bright through most days and nights, and the wind often blows gently, unobstructed by walls for miles. Just beneath the surface however writhes a grotesque sight, a massive colony of man-sized centipedes lives in tight tunnels beneath the dirt, their colony tunnels reaching out for miles in all directions, extending beneath most of this part of the plain and descending who-knows how deep.

- An unwary digger tunnelled into the bugs' lair. He's almost certainly dead, but the entrance he made is still there, for now. This could be a chance to exterminate this vermin menace for good!
- Rumours of treasure in a centipede colony? But why would bugs have treasure?
- It's theorized that a forgotten relic of some ancient magic is responsible for the growth of these creatures. Perhaps it could be retrieved.
- Why does such a vast colony of bugs bugs so rarely disturb the pristine surface of the plains?


The TimberLode

Set in a rocky plain reached via a meandering footpath rises a stout timber fortress, rising some 15 feet above the ground, and manned by a group of war-like, xenophobic elves (and their families). Oddly enough, the wood of the fortess is made of cut logs, and the whole structure appears to be fairly new, and very crude-looking.

Though the elves seem in desperate need of supplies, they are unwilling to leave their fort and unwiiling to trust outsiders. If they can are befriended, they would be willing to trade for a laundry list of supplies from the trading post, and willing to pay much coin for wine from Abdul.

- How did the elves come to be in this fortress, and who built it?
- Why are the elves so xenophobic about others?


First Post
Kids are napping now, I'll try to add in a few locations, then update the map and the compilation before they wake up, it's a race against time!
Edit: map updated, the Timberlode has been placed at Hex 13.03

Hex 03.05
The Long Stairs

Carved over the long years by neophytes into the very stone of the mountain, a long series of smooth stone steps lead up towards the dwarven monastery.

The stairs are splotched badly with dove droppings for many of these sacrificial birds flock around the Long Stairs. Some of them have had their feathers dyed orange in honor of the holy color of the Drinker of Iron so that the monks can judge the auspices by watching the course of their flight among their white brothers. The doves also serve to alert the monks to intruders for they always fly into the air in one vast peeping cloud at the approach of strangers.

-Can you really predict the future by looking at birds?

Hex 01.03
The Giant's Lake

Although the nameless storm giant spends much of his days wandering the lowlands to the east, he makes his home in a small isle within the Giant's Lake.

Very little rain falls in the secluded mountain valley that houses this lake, so when the weather is dry and the sun hot a thick layer of salt forms over the brine of this ancient lake, which is thick enough to walk on and reflects the sky like a great mirror.

The storm giant claims that the surrounding mountains are actually giants that have been turned to stone and that the salt of the lake is the dried residue of their tears. He does not harass the migratory birds that flock the lake when the rains come but he drives off any sentient creature he sees approaching the lake.

The location of the lake is not well known by the humans of the east, but Old Willie often came down from the mountains with bags of salt, which sold well at Uncle Bertie's Trading Post. Since his disappearance, the trading post has been running low on salt, much to the consternation of the locals that rely on it to preserve their meat.

-What happened to Old Willie. Did the giant kill him for stealing salt?
-The story about the petrified giants isn't really true, is it?

/ Again with the tears, I know, I know.

Hex 22.06
The Western Edge of the Kingswood

Note: this entry has been adapted from a post by "drek" at rpg.net.

The elves of the Timberlode have had the worst possible punishment of the Seelie Court meted out against them: exile from the Kingswood.

Ancient beyond the reckoning of any of the lesser-lived peoples, the court of the Bloodied King claims domain over Kingswood, living just as they have for a thousand-thousand years. The Court at Kingswood refuses all diplomatic ties and even the curtest of communication.

The elves of Kingswood kill anyone found within or near their lands during the daylight hours. They cannot be swayed into allowing human traffic through their forest, citing the terms of an ancient covenant with a long forgotten Prince of Men.

-Who is the Prince of Men, and why is he forgotten?
-What did the elves of the Timberlode do to anger the Bloodied King?
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First Post
There appears to be water on the map at 00.06 but I don't see an entry for that anywhere? Am I missing something?

But hey, since there's bound to be ocean in places...

Hex 01.06: The Warbling Coast
(Ocean, Beach)

A smooth, sandy beach runs for miles along the edge of the ocean here, broken only by the occasional small stream. Trees border the edge of the sand and exotic birds fill the air, making their nests in the branches, larger pieces of driftwood, and on the occasional rock jutting from the water. Among these birds, sometimes flies a mystical white raven which some claim serves as a messenger or prophet for some higher being. The bird has only ever been glimpsed for moments at a time among the massive and colourful flocks though, so these claims remain unproven.

- Why have so many different birds chosen this one length of beach to nest, and how do they manage to coexist?
- Is the raven really a divine creature, or just of an unusual colour?
- Some of the especially exotic birds here are probably quite valuable, could one or two such specimens be captured alive? (although those attempting such a hunt should be wary of massive swarming flocks).

Hex 01.07: The Saltwood

The air here is thick with the smell of salt water from the nearby ocean and the woods are filled with coastal creatures. Most of these are what one would expect, but several more unusual magical beasts dwell here as well. Strangest of all are the rumours of those who have seen a particularly large shark swim upriver to this wood from the Warbling Coast. Some even claim to have seen the creature crawl from the water onto a far bank, transforming into a grotesque, mutated ogre and walking off into the woods. Among more civilised folk these are simply rumours, but they are in fact the truth! The Ogre, Zuc, an afflicted Wereshark, makes his home in a cabin deep in these woods.

- Some people say the treasures that wash up on nearby beaches all end up in the woods sooner or later. Maybe there are still some in there.
- The more dangerous magical beasts around here have been numerous lately. Maybe someone would pay to have a few hunted to thin their numbers.
- Who is Zuc anyways, and why has he only been seen from a distance? Perhaps he eats those who get too close...
- Zuc is only a symptom of a greater evil. Somewhere out in the waters must swim a true wereshark, the one who infected him. Heroes would do well to hunt down such a menace.
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First Post
Map updated, the compilation has been updated but is still not 100% up to date, will add another entry and bring the compilation up to date tomorrow.

A Wizard Did It or BEES! GIANT BEES!
Hex 10.10 description and backstory for hexes 13.08 and 2.08.

At the heart of the web-shrouded village (13.08) lies an abandoned wizard tower. It was once the home of Severard of the Seven Circles and his apprentices. The village that grew up around his tower was ruled and protected by him and he set about improving the lives of the villagers through the rational application of magic. Some of the locals chafed at his demands that they do all things “rationally” but most considered it a small price to pay for his aid and protection.

As the village, then known as Severard’s Town, grew the wizard became annoyed by constant talk about food production and set about solving the problem. He developed magic that could greatly increase the growth of animals and tested it on centipedes and bees. He set up colonies of these creatures both west in the Tashtan Plains and as well as to the east (hexes 2.08 and 10.10) in order to study them, caring little about their effects on others.

He was wrapping up his experiments on spider growth and preparing to move on to chickens and other delicious animals when, in a moment of carelessness, he was poisoned and killed by his prize spider specimen. He villagers became concerned when Severard failed to come out of his tower and cats and other small animals began to disappear from the village. But by the time that they had gathered up enough courage to venture into Severard’s tower it was too late. The spider had grown too large and too cunning and drove the villagers from their homes and cast her webs across the villager. Perhaps a means to reverse the magical growth of animals lies within Severard of the Seven Circle’s tower, but none have been able to retrieve it.

Although Severard now lies dead, his creations yet multiply. Away from his tower (10.10) his bee colony fills a large copse of trees with its dreadful buzzing. The bees that live here range out miles from their hive, seeking the sweet nectar of the purple kingscrown flowers. The locals, while they wisely fear to approach the hive, do go in the dead of winter (when the bees lie mostly dormant) to gather honey. The locals are willing to kill any intruders who attempt to poach their honey, for the purple mead that can be made from is their only valuable trade good.

-Who are the locals who harvest the honey?
-What makes the purple giant bee honey so valuable?
-What happened to Severard’s apprentices?
-Why was he called Severard “of the Seven Circles?” What circles?
-What is the means of reversing animal growth that lies within Severard’s tower?
-A wizard’s tower must have some other interesting things in it. Right?

Hex 29.07
The Holt of the Bloodied King
Note: the first paragraph of this post has been adapted from a post by “drek” on the rpg.net forums.

At the heart of the Kingswood lies the Holt of the Bloodied King. At night and during the very darkest depths of winter, the Seelie Court retreats into their central Holt. Tiny motes of purplish light arise from the trees during this time -- the last remnants of the Unseelie Court that once shared ruler-ship in Kingswood, before being chased out hundreds upon hundreds of years ago.

Near the Holt where the Bloodied King of the Elves of the Kingswood reigns, a great geyser bursts from the earth. It is the source of the Witchwater, a river that flows through and out of the Kingswood.

The heat of the water spewed from the geyser keeps the Witchwater remarkably ice-free in winter and for much of its length it is shrouded in a great serpent of mist. In many places it is warm enough to bathe in comfortably year-round, although any human doing so would surely be a fool...

-Where did the Unseelie Court go?
-Why’s there such a massive geyser in the middle of the forest?
-Why would it be foolish for a human (or other species as well?) to bathe in the Witchwater?

/Again with the hot springs. Winter is doing things to my brain.
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First Post
The compilation has now been brought completely up to date. It has just broken thirteen pages.

Through Caverns Measureless to Man
Hex 05.05: additional information

The caverns that run under the Glass Rapids extend an enormous distance and have never been thoroughly mapped. In the upper caverns fungus grows abundantly in the strange green glow of the riverbanks, nearly covering what appear to be shattered walls of ancient buildings, perhaps carried here by some long-forgotten flood.

On the nights that the singing from the caverns can be heard the most clearly, travelers have also heard the baying of hounds and reports of massive woolly-coated black dogs have been made.

According to those who have consulted the wisdom of The Weeper, the few words that could be made out clearly among the singing translate to "the last child," "the flute of black fire" and "beware!" in a decadent dialect of demonic.

-What can be found in the deeper caverns?
-What's up with the black dog?
-Who is the singer and what is the song?

Tehaar the Huntress
Type: Wandering NPC

One of the most able, or at least the most active, of the servants of the Bloodied King is Tehaar the Huntress. She leads a band of elves that relentlessly patrols the Kingswood, more out of love for the hunt than for any duty to the king, other elves say. She can be easily recognized by the unseelie runes inscribed on the leather mask that she wears whenever on the hunt and the stag that she rides.

Tehaar’s tactics are based on bleeding intruders without risking elven lives and generally begin by harassing the quarry without alerting them to elven presence. This is done by driving beasts into the paths of the intruders, setting up snares, obscuring trails and casting spells out of earshot (summoned monsters are a favorite) to slowly wear down the intruders. If the quarry resists these attempts, then the elves approach and shoot arrows at them from cover (often magical), especially focusing on interrupting any attempts at casting healing magic. A favorite tactic is firing down at the quarry from tall trees and then bounding away across branches too thin for bulkier races to climb across. Throughout the hunt, Tehaar’s second in command shadows that intruders and reports their activities (via mimicked animal sounds).

If the enemy attempts to chase the elves, then they are lead deep into the forest and usually become hopelessly lost. If they panic and make a break for the edge of the forest, then Tehaar’s companions begin sounding hunting horns and toy with them with cat-like glee.

However, Tehaar is not entirely without mercy. In one case, a band of Stannev men were in pursuit of a gang of cattle rustlers who had become desperate enough to run into the Kingswood in the daytime. The Stannev men-at-arms bravely gave chase and, as they were finishing gutting the rustlers, Tehaar’s band arrived, bristling with arrows, but allowed the humans to retreat out of the Kingswood with only a few desultory arrows fired past their ears. In general, Tehaar will allow intruders to retreat out of the Kingswood after killing their leader, in some cases even providing an escort. However, enemies who attempt to cover their escape by doing such things as setting fire to the forest will be hunted to extinction.

The best ways to survive an encounter with Tehaar is to use an elf as a hostage, hide in an enclosed area where elven bows are of little use or run into her when she is not hunting, such as during one of her frequent swims in the Witchwater.

-What properties does the Witchwater have?
-Who else has run into Tehaar? Did they live?
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the Jester

The Mocking Hills
Hex 04.07

Type: Location

The foothills running through this hex are short but steep, with many areas of scree and sparse vegetation. Because of their steepness, there are a number of areas within it that could be described almost as chasms, intersecting to form a shallow but hard-to-climb maze. More than one traveler has lost his or her way amongst the Mocking Hills, nearly (or actually!) starving to death before escaping.

Some claim that the area is haunted by some sort of malicious beasts that can speak, but others claim this to be mere superstition. Nonetheless, some nearby tribes use a trek through a portion of the Mocking Hills as a test of adulthood, and most of the locals return safely. Despite this, some insist that they heard mocking laughter and/or saw some sort of terrifically ugly quadruped stalking the forlorn hills.


Are the rumored ugly quadrupeds real, and what are they? (Note: The first poster who can identify my answer from the description above gets xps!)
Who are the nearby locals that send their youths into the canyons and gullies of the Mocking Hills, and why do the rumored monsters not molest them?
Might there be lost treasures amongst the hills, lost by travelers or adventurers who did not escape? MIght there be an organization dedicated to seeking such treasures?

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters