Type: Large geographical area
Location: Northern part of the northern continent
Borders: North: Northern Waste, South & East: Great Barrier Mountain range , West: Dragon Mountains.
Population: Lutins (80%), humans (10%, giants (2%) are present but the exact numbers are unknown but it is estimated to be over a million lutins. Also large numbers of other races (8%) are present including Dire wolves and Ogres.
Geography: Mostly wild scrub land but with considerable forests, mountains, plains, valleys, tundra, taiga and pretty much everything else is represented here in some form.
Climate: The climate varies widely. In the south it can be almost moderate with long winters countered by warm summers. In the north (especially the areas near the Northern Wastes is arctic and have very short summers or none at all. Large parts of the Giantdowns never really warm up and have permafrost layer moderated only but short summers.
Politics: Chaos. Nowhere else does politics shift so rapidly then here.
The closest real world equivalent is Siberia.
The Giantdowns is a place of great variety and even greater danger. A huge area filled mostly with a howling wilderness interspersed with cities, towns and tribes. So wild and unknown is it that most of it will not be properly mapped till the invention of satellite photography (Several hundred years after the present story line). It has seen countless empires rise and fall over the millennia. It holds vast natural resources including timber, coal, gold, silver, copper and almost everything else possible. Until recently a large portion of the Giandowns was controlled by Naoj. The failure of his Winter Assault along with the 2 previous failures led to the collapse of his control over the lutins. This has led to a large area once under his control rebelling. This has left the Giantdowns in chaos - again. Stepping into that chaos is Lilith who is aggressively pushing outward determined to fulfill her dreams of glory and conquest. But she seems to forget that Nasoj had dreams of conquest too and the Giantdowns is filled with the ruins of would be conquerors. In the face of such aggression some City States in the southern Giantdowns are turning to Metamor Keep and have opened tenuous alliances. And more interesting some Lutin tribes have as well. At least one lutin chief has made a actual peace treaty. Whether this will last is not known. The Giantdowns is a region of great wilderness. Taiga - forests that stretch in all directions for hundreds of miles. Virgin forests that have never seen a human or a Lutin and probably never will.
Geographical Information: the Giantdowns is greatly isolated from the rest of the world mostly being blocked off by the Great Barrier Mountain range and the Dragon Mountains. There are only 3 passes known.
Dark Keep: Was known as Blackhorne Keep. This large fortress is located close to the Murk. The fortress was rectangular shaped with a tower at each corner and in the center of it’s two longest walls. A short, squat gate house rested in the center of one of the short, side walls. At the end farthest from the gate a tall, rectangular tower soared into the sky. Surrounding it on all sides was a large town that is now completely leveled. This is one of those places that has changed hands countless times over the centuries. It was held by Metamor Keep until shortly before the Battle of 3 Gates (699CR) when it was taken by Nasoj after a long and bitter siege. There after it was rebuilt by Nasoj and its garrison helped control the surrounding area. It was attacked and destroyed soon after Winter Assault (January 707CR). Since then the ruins have been fought over by the local tribes (human, lutin and giant) and has changed hands several times.
Forest of Darkness: This dark and evil forest is the home of an energy nexus and lies at the heart of Lilith's growing empire.
Ithicaelle Naghim: the name means Wraiths stronghold. This massive fortress was a major strong point of Nasoj. Located 2 days hard ride from Giants Dike. It held a garrison of over 3,000 and was the size of a small city. Strong curtain walls with stout interval towers and a large Keep that was really a small castle in it's own right. It was from here that his invasions of Metamor were staged. This was also key to Nasoj's control of the southern Giantdowns. It was attacked and destroyed a few days after Winter Assault (Jan 707) by a coalition of Lutin tribes led by Althrig Kelrag Arthedain (See below). Its destruction was key in breaking Nasoj's control of the area. What has happened to the place since then is unknown. It's name comes from the fact that several real wraiths were there. It is unknown if any have survived the fortresses downfall.
Nasoj's Great Road (unfinished):
The Murk: This forest is located at the edge of the southern Barrier range between Dark Keep, Bremen and Lik. It has at it's heart a small energy nexus. Giant ruins have been reported there. There is a lutin legend that something sleeps under the Murk (exactly what varies) and that waking it up would be a VERY bad idea. Little else is known of the place.
Flora & Fauna
There is no place on the planet that has such a wide variety of plant and animal life as the Giantdowns. Mostly wild scrub land but with considerable forests, mountains, plains, valleys, tundra and pretty much everything else can be found somewhere. Large parts are covered with low lying ground cover like mosses, lichen and very hardy grasses and weeds. And incomplete list of mosses and lichen known to grow in the Giantdowns has over 500 entries. There are vast forests with all sorts of trees including Elm, ash, oak, pine and the larch.
Animals known to inhabit the area are:
Elk, Caribou, musk ox. boar, rabbit, arctic rabbit, badger.
Tiger, lynx, fox, arctic fox, wild dog, wolf
Death Bushes: These tall thick bushes are well known for being covered with two foot long thorns that are as hard and sharp as swords. When (carefully) harvested the thorns make perfect weapons. Also planted and used as a form of natural barbed wire.
Glow moss: A type of moss remarkable that when crushed it will give off a bright, green or blue (which depends on the particular variety) light.
Strangle Bush: This large plant is thought to be an offshoot of the common and harmless Snake plant. The plant is known to be carnivorous and it's branches grasp and strangle prey. Then it drags the body back to the base of the plant to be digested.
Dire wolf: Sometimes called the pony wolf (due to it's size). Know for their large size (some males are larger then a horse!). Tough and hardy. They have an intelligence that is almost up to human level. Usually in packs of 6 to 12. Commonly kept by the lutins as guards/mounts. It is an uneasy relationship as if the dire wolves are treated too harshly they will leave usually after eating the ones who hurt them. The dire wolf is a true survivor. Fossil records show that the dire wolf was common all over the planet in the distant past. It has gone extinct everywhere else over 12,000 years ago.Many scholars believe the species is slowly going extinct and might disappear compoletely within 200 years. One pack of dire wolves have been resettled in Metamor Valley by Misha in an attempt to save the species. (as a note this will ultimately succeed and the dire wolf will continue to exist.)
Mist Lion: The mist lion is not really a lion and more closely resembles a cougar but with a dark gray or white coloring. Inhabits most of the Giantdowns but not in large numbers. An intelligent and stealthy hunter and is partly named for the fact that it lives in areas with lots of rain, fog or mist. Also called the Hentslu which translates roughly to 'Bad weather' cat. Most famous for it's ability to actually create a good sized cloud of mist. The older animals are also able to effect the local temperature making a small area cold enough to freeze water. Believed to have been created by a mage who used mountain lions as the basic stock.
Saber cat: Also called the ghost tiger. Exact information on this creature is extremely hard to come by. The more reliable eyewitness testimony describe what can only be a Sabertooth cat most likely Smilodon Fatalis - the sabertooth tiger. Considered by some to be a legend. Some believe the tales of this creature are leftover from the distant past when the Smilodon was known to exist all over the planet. The species was believed to have gone extinct over 12,000 years ago. There is just enough testimony to think that here in the Giantdowns the species of cat found a final refuge from extinction. The continued existence of the Dire Wolf lends credence to the idea. There is enough evidence that the species will be declared Extremely Endangered in 996 CR.
Tundra Mole: The tremendously large creatures are unique. These moles are known to easily weigh several tons and are larger then an elephant.
The Giantdowns has a long history dating far back into the distant past. One lutin settlement- Rehtuks Fist is known to have been continuously inhabited for over 12,000 years. A fact confirmed by archeological excavations in 1012CR. But lutins and giants are believed to have been there long before that time. Humans came later mostly drifting north through Metamor Valley and Devils pass.
Giant empire: In the far distant past there was giant empire. Details about it are sparse but it is said to have controlled all of the Giantdowns at its height. Why the empire collapsed is unknown. Seeing how stupid the giants are now it is hard to believe that is ever existed but there are more then enough ruins and remains to confirm it. There is the legend that the giants were cursed by the gods for some reason.
Dragon War: Automaton Magic was long practiced extensively by the xenophobic Lom Shi'Un Dynasty. The knowledge is believed to have been at its height during the Dragon war (-1780CR) when hundreds of automata including many who flew were used. More exact details of the war are hard to come by as few records survive. The Lutins themselves have extensive tales and myths from the era. They were used as cannon-fodder (so to speak) by all the sides. The only winner of the war seems to have been the Lutins who survived and continue to thrive in the area. A large number of the Automata were lost in the fighting and never replaced. There are reports of Automaton as late as -200CR but are considered extinct now a days.
Politics, Nations & other Organizations:
Lom Shi'Un Dynasty controls a large area and is expanding aggressively into areas that had been controlled by Nasoj. Possessed of a long history this empire is evil and it's ruler truly means to conquer the Giantdowns. Whether she succeeds or not it means more bloodshed and chaos for the region.
Metamor Keep: Technically not in the Giantdowns but heavily involved due to its location. In the past when the Dukes of Metamor were stronger they controlled large sections of the Southern Giantdowns. Metamor Keep might be the only organization that stands a chance of stopping Lillith. Duke Thomas' has recently started to open talks with various powers in the Giantdowns hoping to form alliances. See Metamor Keep.
Nasoj's Empire: Still needs a good name. Nasoj had a large empire that held most of the Giantdowns under its control. But his empire is collapsing and large sections are now in turmoil as many groups try to fill the power vacuum. At one time he controlled a large portion of the Giantdowns but that is slowly shrinking to a small area around Nasojassa and the Death Mountains. He came to power circa +500CR (exact details are lacking) when he overthrew the Sorth republic.
Althrig Kelrag (The Conqueror) Arthedain - leader of the Crushing Fists tribe. A rising power in the Giantdowns. He has conquered or allied himself with many other tribes. Known to hate Nasoj some suspect he quietly sabotaged Nasoj's Winter Assault. It is known that he raised a large alliance of Lutins in open rebellion and destroyed much of Nasoj's remaining strongholds in the southern Giantdowns in the wake of the WA failure. Recently he took the dramatic step of actually signing a peace treaty with Metamor. His exact motives remain unknown but he is a force to be reckoned with. He controls a portion of the Southern Giantdowns.
Tribes:The single most widely used organization is the tribe. A tribe consists of between 300 to 3000 individuals. Humans, giants and lutins all have tribes in the area. There are over 500 known lutins tribes that are all involved in a very complex web of alliances, treaties and relationships. they are constantly shifting allegiances and waging war on each other. Some tribes have feuds going between them that have lasted for centuries.
Cities & City-States: There are many cities in the Giantdowns that are independent and control a small area around them. These cities usually have human populations but there are at least 8 lutin city-states and 1 Giant city-state.
Caralore: Town with a population of 1000+. Stone city wall with towers and a castle. This was once a thriving, powerful trade city that brought in the gathered products created by nomadic Lutins and Giants and caravan them south as much more expensive exotic goods. When Nasoj came to power, though, they have seen their prosperity decline to the state of total depression. Most prominent families quietly fled south or west to Arabarb, leaving the town to the marauding forces of Nasoj during his first southern push. With the collapse of Nasoj's control in the area Caralore is once again on it's own. They have opened relations with Metamor Keep in an attempt to counter the growing threat of Lilith.
Lik: Population: 3000, Fortification: Caverns & stone walls. A standing garrison of 1000. A source of true wealth for the north, this community brings precious stones from the earth upon which the city rests – it is in essence one huge mine that is changed into living space as veins play out. Forays also go into the surrounding mountains to pan, mine, or just pick up other precious stones. The population of Lik is primarily human and a few giants, but get along well enough with the surrounding Lutin tribes that they are left alone almost entirely. After WA they gave support to the surviving members of many tribes, and thus their population grows, and the Lutins’ knowledge of the area improves their prosperity. Due to the importance of this town, Nasoj has placed a sizable garrison under the command of a loyal general and a small but potent circle of mages strangely dedicated to the northern mage despite their distant location. (Nasoj also has some method of traveling to and from Lik personally… and instantly, to quell any sort of unrest). Members of the garrison also make up an additional part of the workforce, working the mines and escorting groups into the mountains. In spite of all these measures his control of Lik remains tenuous.
Poltizen:Town with a population of 500+. Wooden city wall with a berm and a small motte and & bailey castle.
Starven: Population: 500, Fortifications :Floating bulwarks, curtain wall & archers. They also have waterborne catapults. A fishing town that has also been turned into a garrison for Nasoj’s raiders heading south to pester Metamor’s defenses. Their primary trade is fish, which they preserve with salt mined in the nearby flats. While many of their lesser important buildings are on shore, the primary town ‘floats’ on a flotilla of huge barges. If an assault reaches the town, they are able to raise the decking and float the barges out into the Sea, even during rough weather (which is rare, the mountains protect them from anything stronger than a summer thunderstorm). Even the huge piers can be set afloat, cutting the town off entire from any attackers on the shore (boats moor to the barges, not the shore). As a nasty side note, each barge supports two defensive catapults and three ballistae, which they can use to bombard forces stuck on shore. With the collapse Nasoj's control Starven is once again on its own.
Sorth Republic: This was the country that Nasoj took over and it became the heart of his empire. The capital was the city of Sorth which is now known as Nasojassa. Nasoj took control of the country (probably by violent coupe) sometime around 500CR. Nasoj has gone to great lengths to erase Sorth from history. Few alive now (Aside from the dragons and elves) remember it now.
Unusual Places and Locations:
The Four Steps: this odd formation is cut into the Northern Face of the Great Barrier range. They are 4 massive, giant sized steps that lead slowly upwards and deeper into the mountain range. No one is sure who carved them or where they ultimately lead. One Lutin expedition followed them upwards till the air grew too thin and cold. It is the source of countless legends and myths among the Lutins. There are actually a lot more than 4 steps but only the first four are visible from ground level.
Legends and Myths: The Giantdowns is home to an amazing array of stories, myths and legends.
Giant Empire: There are countless legends of giant cities filled with all sorts of treasure and lost magic just waiting for some adventurer to discover it.
Hidden Elves: Stories tell of a tribe of elves living in the Giantdowns using powerful magic to hide from everyone. No trace of such a hidden tribe has ever come to light. But amazingly some elven ruins ARE known to exist in the Forest of Darkness and the Murk but are believed to have been abandoned long ago when the elves retreated to Aelfwood.
Garashel the terrible: This legend is little known outside of the Giantdowns where it is a common story among some lutin tribes - ("Behave or Garashel will get you!" ) Garashel is supposed to be an all metal griffin with claws of silver and wings of gold. Legends speak of her being able to become invisible and to slaughter whole tribes. There is no solid information about her being an automaton or that she even exists but the legend must have some basis in fact. Perhaps a distant memory of some automaton from the Dragon war. See Automaton Magic.