The Ground and the Trees

Introduction | Geography

The Gargantuan

Life on the ground on Eleath is next-to-impossible for humanoid folk. The main reason for this is that the ground is walked by several species of terrible lizards. Even the smaller species are larger than an average human, and these hunt in large packs. Working together these are swift and deadly. Other, larger species compete, hunting in smaller groups or singly, with the largest nearing 20 metres tall. These predators hunt large herbivores which are used to being prey and to competing for limited resources, so in many cases are almost as ferocious in defence or rivalry as the carnivores are in attack, making swiping a few humanoids aside seem a trivial task. These oversized and dangerous creatures are commonly known as “The Gargantuan.”

The Unwelcoming Ground

The herbivores’ reach long necks up to browse the lower branches of the trees, or wade in the swamps in which most of the tree roots sit, forming a secondary hazard, where the quicksands and bogs are often impassable to the short legs of humanoids. There are small islands of firmer ground, and even small, rocky outcroppings - some of them key sources of hearthstones - but the bogs cover the vast expanses below the trees. Even more dangerous to travellers are the “Burning Lands” - areas where the tree roots sit in sulphurous quagmires of mud and ash between pools of lava. The “ironwood” trees growing in the Burning Lands have all evolved to be able to withstand the caustic conditions and high temperatures their roots and boles must endure, their bark forming metal-hard, impervious coverings in the presence of fire, and their roots reaching deep for hidden waters, or fine filaments of leaves drawing what moisture they need from whatever rain falls.

Bad Airs

The air at ground level is also filled with heavier-than-air sulphurous gases known as The Miasma. This is yet another issue for the inhabitants of the trees if ever they need to descend to the ground, with special arrangements needing to be made to make breathing possible, with various cultures making masks in different ways, some based around cloth, and others around specific leaves or fungi. However, this danger has a bright side: The gargantuan have evolved not only to survive these vapours, but to require them to breathe. This makes it impossible for them to live up in the treetops, preventing any of them climbing to the level where the humanoids live!

The Tepui

Thanks to the low gravity and particular geology of Eleath most of the mountains of the world have near-vertical faces. These cliffs are often hundreds of metres high, and are often just a few tens of metres wide, although hundreds of meters is not unheard of. These tepui are as safe from the Gargantuan as the trees themselves, and are accessed directly from the trees, not from the ground. The tepui are the source of most minerals, and the site of most serious smelting and larger forging operations.

Page last modified on December 17, 2023, at 03:44 PM
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