Strange Ecology – Wet and Wild

In this series of posts on Strange Ecology, I am introducing various aspects of the ecological nature of particular regions in my campaign setting, Memory Fading. I hope to let you see a little bit about how I make the decisions I do, and how I am trying to bring just a bit more realism into my setting. The Chulgeth is a large archipelago in the equatorial region of Ord. This land encompasses two main islands, each over three hundred miles across, and a number of smaller islands that surround the two main islands, and expand further south in the shape of an open hand. The majority of the islands are covered with tropical rainforests.

The Chulgeth has some of the largest rivers in the world because of the tremendous amount of precipitation it receives. These mega-rivers are fed by countless smaller tributaries, streams, and creeks. The largest of these rivers, called by the Hiths the Yuruvoko, starts in the small Jivinto mountain range in the center of the main island, fed by scores of tributaries, and in turn feeding dozens of distributaries, is the lifeblood of the majority of the Chulgeth. It winds westerly across the island before dropping off into the sea, along its course, going through countless Hith settlements and villages, and supporting the life of millions of flora and fauna. It is a muddy brown-colored river, but not from any sort of pollutants, rather from the tons of sediment that are washed into the river from the tropical storms almost every single day.

The Yuruvoko is so extremely prone to flooding throughout the course of the year that many of the Hiths in the Chulgeth do not live at a ground level. Instead, in most communities, they build large, clustered villages high in the trees, far above the water level.

Hith High House

Other Hith communities are built atop the criss-crossed trunks of particularly buoyant trees known as dienwa trees, which act as stationary barges for various homes that are built atop them. Gangplanks and narrow bridges connect individual homes and buildings to others, so that it seems that entire villages float on the Yuruvoko. When the river floods, the houses just rise with the river.

The dienwa trees are an important part of the ecosystem in the Chulgeth. These trees mature very quickly, growing up to fifty feet tall in just a dozen years or so. Their extreme buoyancy was not understood until the Feng Tower recently did several years of study. Apparently, once the trees reach a certain age, they begin producing a fruit called pinwi, a soft reddish fruit that grows to the size of a man’s fist. These fruits are a major attractor to certain insects known by scholars as “kiselers,” which make their home beneath the thick bark of the tree. They feed off the fruits and build large, honeycombed nests beneath the bark. During the course of their nest-building, the kiselers secrete a substance that seals their nests from outside moisture. These water-proof nests cause the bark to expand outwards, giving the trees the very bloated appearance they often have. However, because of the extra air that gets sealed inside these nests, the trees have a much lower density than other trees, and can support massive amounts of weight before sinking.

When the trees age to about fifty years old, they tend to become very brittle (the reason for this is still unknown), and during severe storms (of which there are many in the Chulgeth), they will break and fall into the river. Often, at narrow sections of the river, these trees get bottlenecked together and form semipermanent bridges over the river.

Near the riverbanks all along the Yuruvoko grows a slightly bioluminescent moss called suri grass. This green glowing moss is part of a system that decays dead and dying wood along the river. Often times, the fungus will get swept up during storms and find itself attached to the dead and bloated wood of the dienwa tree bridges. These glowing bridges are the source of many a strange folkloric tale of ghouls in Hith lore, and are a very important part of their mythology.

Due to the climate and the heavy moisture, when it is not raining in the Chulgeth, it is often extremely foggy. Thick fog clouds hang over the rivers and streams, clutching with tendrils at the flowing rivers, and causing the forests overall to appear even more dense, crowded, and ominous than they otherwise would appear. Obviously, many predators (both Hith and animal alike) use this to their advantage, just adding to the strange forebodingness of the land.

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