|Flora and Fauna|
Drowda,also referred to as the Forbidden Continent, is one of the most dangerous lands in Aloria due to the excess of Planar Essences seeping into the continent. This land, which is situated in the Far North of Aloria, is filled with Essence that has escaped the broken tear between dimensions, known as the Veil, during the time of the Cataclysm. This has resulted in the continent being filled with various tainted Flora and Fauna which have battled against the region’s lone protectors, the Sihndar, for over two centuries. The Sihndar live the entirety of their lives dedicated to holding these otherworldly forces from leaving their forsaken continent and wreaking havoc elsewhere. Drowda is a place of beginnings and ends, where the Drovv civilization collapsed; where the Cataclysm altered the world forever; and where the Sihndar developed into the powerful warriors they are today.
Drowda’s history is steeped in that of the Void Invasions. From this location, in an uneven but inevitably completed timetable, Void Invasions occurred when the civilizations of Aloria had grown in magical power. But after the Fourth Void Invasion ended, a new Race came to call the northern reaches home. Known as the Drovv, their people are only known in records for three things. One, their strange physic of long necks, two, their surprising physical strength and combat skills and three, their existence spawned a copycat cult. Known as the Cult of Dronnal, this group arose in the Allorn Empire’s province of Drowda, a region near Drovv territory of little consequence and considered a backward land by the majority of the Empire. Despite this, the Cult developed a strong following under the tutelage of the nearby Drovv. Unfortunately, it was not enough to hold back the darkness that came with the Fifth Void Invasion. Millions of Drovv died in the desperate defense of Aloria, but the Void was an otherworldly foe. Their vile armies and corrupted animals surged outward, causing the Drovv to go extinct while also massacring those of the Cult who stood in their way. When the Allorn Empire’s army was formed, much of the surviving Cult joined up and became major leaders in the battle that followed. The Cultists pushed on ahead, attempting to reach their old home territory and somehow found themselves in what is now called Drowda when the Cataclysm occurred.
The Void was defeated, but in the process, something had drastically changed. Magic energies of both the Void and the Exist tore across the continent as land bridges and chunks of land were sunk, isolating it from the world. For the Cult of Dronnal, it was a living hell. Many promptly died of poisonings from the raw power of these otherworldly Essences, but the ones who did manage to persevere, adapted. Their skin and hair were altered, and the trait known to them as the Northern Taint meant that they now could combat magical forces and foes. The same energies also corrupted the local wildlife and twisted the continent, transforming what had been a briskly cold but habitable region into a warmed-with-energy inhospitable dark landmass. However, the survivors survived and did so very well, carving out territory for themselves and developing into the Sihndar based on the lessons of the long-dead Drovv. Over the span of 130 years, the Sihndar Holds formed along the coastline, and the Sihndar fully developed into a people while their continent’s wildlife continued to also develop and solidify into their murderous forms. In 150 AC, the Sihndar all met and devised the Great Call which sent thousands of them away from Drowda, believing that only once the wider world was purged of the taints of magic could the cleanup truly begin in their homeland. Drowda thus became a training ground for the Race, its dangers kept in check but still unable to push deeper in. The death of the physical form of the Archdemon in 302 AC had some effect in clearing the darkest areas of the continent and in calming the fierce Inner Storm Sea that surrounded the continent, but Drowda now remains largely as it did those 150 years ago.
Drowda is in the Far North of Aloria, found to the north of the Regalian Archipelago, northwest of Ellador and north of Jorrhildr. The continent is surrounded on all sides by the Inner Storm Sea, a body of water affected by the Void which has drastically improved since 302 AC, allowing more Sihndar to leave their home continent. Despite these cold waters existing nearby, Drowda is shockingly temperate, downright warm in some places. The likely reason for this is the continued existence of Essences and cracks in the Veil that leak exotic forms of energy into the world, all of this raw energy keeping the continent warm. There are also believed to be a series of exposed thermal vents on the far side of the continent, but few have ever managed to pierce that far into Drowda. This is inclined to stay that way, because the land is covered in hostility, from the rugged central mountains to the living carnivorous trees to the many fierce beasts, the inland forests and plains of Drowda are not to be underestimated. Additionally, rifts, fissures, and cracks between this world and others dot the wild, leaking their energy into the surrounding areas, making them warped and violent places. Additionally, the continent is divided between Drowda Major and Drowda Minor, the former being a large section of the continent broken off by the Cataclysm that remained above the waves. The coastline and edges of the continent are jagged and varied with many boulder and rock beaches meeting jagged cliffs or dark forests. Along this coastline are the Holds, the great fortresses of the Sihndar people. These bastions of civilization are all along the southern coastline, with port facilities to help them trade with the outside world and travel outward to answer their Great Call.
The flora of Drowda have all been twisted and mutated into horrifying renditions of themselves, changing in color and form. These mutated plants are generally more dangerous closer to the center of the island, as opposed to the mild and passive flora which live towards the coasts. The majority of plant life on Drowda is actually fungi; mushrooms of any size (including those as tall as trees) dot Drowda’s surface. Unique plants, such as the Eluhwa or Honey Ball, make frequent appearances along the coasts, plains and forests of Drowda. Others, such as the man-eating Reapers, exist deeper inland and occasionally closer to the Holds.
The fauna seen on Drowda is likely the greatest threat to any adventurer exploring the region. The beasts here come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they all share is their Void-induced mutations and madness. All creatures on Drowda are hyper-aggressive and will attack anything sentient they see due to the influence of the Void. A prime example of this is the Giant Drow Spider, an arachnid well-known for its devastating abilities. Another lesser-known creature is the Shssisse, semi-intelligent reptilian hunters which wander Aloria and feed off of Void Essence. While most live here, on the Forbidden Continent, some have also slipped over to the distant Far West and the Kathar, who view them as “Void Dragons.” They believe this because the beast can control Void Essence to make themselves blend in with the environment around them, making them exceedingly difficult to detect in Void-tainted areas. On the other side, there are a few animals which are not aggressive or even violent despite their mutations. The most prominent of these is the Drowdan Stag, a species of non-aggressive cervid the Sihndar keep as pets as well as mounts for small units of agile light cavalry or scouts.
Politics and Demographics
Drowda is ruled, technically, by the Sihndar Holds found along its southern coastline and the Xasters found within. These Xasters are military leaders who help organize the defense of the Hold and the training of the next generations of warriors. These Holds, though they are united and represent the core of the Sihndar Race, haven’t really claimed Drowda as their own. They do see it as their duty to live there and serve as some sort of cork on what otherwise might be out of control Essence corruption, but they have no territorial boundaries. This hardly matters as no other nations is at all keen to claim Drowda anyway, with Daen largely ignoring the region as they did in the antiquity of the Allorn Empire. The Regalian Empire does try to keep on good terms with the Holds, but this relationship can be strained due to the dogmatic extremism of the Sihndar regarding all otherworldly taint.
Derronva Hold is the largest and most prosperous of the Sihndar settlements in Drowda. It was established in 50 AC but has been extended over the years, with high curtain walls protecting the cramped interior. The Hold is also significant for existing near an untainted freshwater source, merely a mile or two beyond the high walls, which has greatly aided the Hold’s population over the years. As a result of this and other factors (a number of effective Xasters, famous Sihndar warriors originating from this Hold), the most promising young warriors of the neighboring three citadels are often sent here, which has resulted in a slightly larger youth population than normal inside of this particular Hold. As a result, this Xaster is one that focuses particularly on the production of food, which makes it even more active. The Hold is also home to a large docking area for native and foreign ships as well as a stable for a contingent of Drowda Stags, kept as pets by the Hold but also for use by those seeking to serve as light cavalry or scouts.
The Veil is not necessarily a tangible location, but its influence in Aloria’s long history is noteworthy enough to warrant mention. The Veil is a non-physical window into the realms of the Exist and Void whose location in Aloria is closest to Drowda. As a result, at this weak point between the worlds, piercing the Veil is easiest thus which is why it was the constant location of the different Void Invasions. Unfortunately for the world, the Veil was damaged due to the Cataclysm. Rather than properly close itself, it reabsorbed all Void matter only to be forced to spew out power of both the Void and the Exist into the surrounding environment, which resulted in the mutated plants, animals and inhabitants. Currently, the Veil remains damaged but not in the extreme way it once was, as the effect brought by the damage has resulted in an almost continuous stream of tainting to the region. Additionally, the damage means that any mage who reaches Drowda might find their powers at incredible strength but also extremely susceptible to possession by otherworldly energies. Such an occurrence is rare, but those who did get possessed, have always been found and killed by the Sihndar.
Grave of the Drovv
The Grave of the Drovv is not a structure or a ruin but instead a vast forest at the foot of Drowda’s vast central mountain range. It is said to have been the site of the Drovv’s main city, a grand and powerful fortress against the Void which the vile energy seized as soon as the Fifth Void Invasion began. The battle was fierce, but ultimately the Drovv leadership fell in defense of the world. This myth, though, remains unsupported. The region is certainly tainted by the Void, with many vile animals and plants making it their home in the forest, but ruins and remains are yet to be recovered. Some Sihndar claim their ancient maps clearly show the region as the Drovv capital, but these maps have not aged well at all as while some were kept, their uselessness to the early Sihndar meant care was neglected, or they were outright destroyed to light fires. Despite this, the region is home to a series of shrines along the southern edge, built by the Sihndar in reverence to the Drovv. One of these shrines is said to hold the fragmented remains of a Drovv which were not dug up but merely built over, thus keeping them intact and respecting their resting place. The Grave is also the setting of several Sihndar myths about their greatest warriors.
- Many rumors persist that there exists a lost Hold that dared to settle in the heart of Drowda in the early years of the Sihndar, that discovered a great secret of the Void before an emissary of that dark power wiped them all out.
- Along with the unproven myths of Dulofall presence on Drowda, some travelers claim that Kathar live on the continent as well. This is false.