Geography

The Living Jungle is situated high upon a magically created
plateau near the center of the southern jungles of
Malatra. None of the civilized cultures surrounding the
plateau, however, are aware of its existence or of its
inhabitants. There are three main barriers between the
inhabitants of the Living Jungle and the rest of Malatra and
the Forgotten Realms.
First, the Malatran jungle itself is a formidable barrier,
especially considering the carnivorous dinosaurs which
make their home around the plateau. The few bands of
humans, Korobokuru, or other oriental races which have
delved deeply enough into the jungle to find the dinosaurs
have not survived long enough to find the plateau.
Second, the plateau rises thousands of feet above the
floor of the Malatra jungle. Even should some explorers
win past the dinosaurs, they would need extraordinary
mountain climbing skills or potent magic to reach the
plateau itself. Both of the first two obstacles would
certainly be overcome by now, if not for the third. In
forming the plateau for their own needs, the Ancients built
a long chain of magical domes around the territory in
which they settled. In addition to a vast and permanent
hallucinatory terrain spell, the Ancients incorporated
powerful and permanent antipathy spells into the battery of
domes.
None can detect the Malatra jungle from above, and any
who approach the surrounding cliffs from below must
continuously make a saving throw vs. spells with a
negative 6 penalty or feel compelled to leave the place and
not return.
Except from the hints of legend which suggest that their
ancestors came from “beyond the edge of the world”, the
inhabitants of the Living Jungle are unaware of their
borders, since they too are subject to the effects of the
antipathy spells. None of the Nubari or other intelligent
races of the plateau have been to the giant cliffs and seen
the limits of their own land. On the plateau itself, Fire
Mountain is the most conspicuous feature. The
southern-most peak in the small central range, Fire
Mountain is an active volcano around which several of the
tribes have developed part of their religions. From the
central mountains spring three rivers: the Dreaming River
to the southwest, the River of Laughing Idols to the
southeast, and Hebika River to the north.
The Dreaming River is so called because of the perpetual
mist which rises from Sleepy Lake and its southern branch.
Even past the lake the fog grows more dense as the river
opens into Kumo Swamp near the base of the Miranuma
Mountains. This whole area is taboo to the Nubari and
other intelligent peoples. The few who have disobeyed the
taboo have never returned to explain what lies within the
obscuring shrouds of those lands. Little is known of the
Hebika River, also known as the Serpent River, except
that it feeds the Dokuba Swamp. There live the savage
lizard races, with whom the Nubari, Korobokuru, and shu
have an ancient enmity which has for some inexplicable
reason -not been tested in the last several decades.
Grandmothers speak of the lizard raids as if they were
nearly constant in their youth, but none has seen one of
the scaly raiders in many years.
The most familiar of the plateau’s rivers is the River of
Laughing Idols, so named for the curious statues which lie
along its length, planted at the edge of or even in the river
itself. Those which still function “laugh” as the current
flows into them, bubbling with humor and music as the
water courses through their cunning chambers, only to
rush out of mouths, nostrils, eyes, or ears. No two of these
idols are alike, and some are considered taboo while
others have become centerpieces of the more distant river
villages. The River of Laughing Idols ends, as far as the
Nubari know, at the edge of the Valley of Spirits -
undoubtedly the most dread of the taboo regions on the
plateau. Where the river spills over the sheer cliff edge,
colossal waterfalls explode into white mist which seems to
expand to fill the entire area. The valley itself is a severe
canyon hidden in mist, just like the region to the southwest.
Blood-chilling screams of alien throats rise from the
obscured valley, and its edges are ringed with taboo
totems warning away any so foolish as to approach the
place for a view of its spectacular falls though romantic
legends of some Nubari tribes do impel young men and
women to defy the taboo. Some of them even return to
their people, but they never speak of what they saw, and
they never go back to the falls.
The Screaming River flees the Howling Mountains to
languish in the Koro Lake before crashing into the Valley
of Spirits. The Nubari know little about either of these
places, as both are strictly avoided, though few tribes have
formal taboos about them. Both the mountain and the river
are named for the terrible sounds which those who have
braved them report. It is said that only the korobokuru
approach these areas with impunity, though some add that
the saru may also visit.
The Living Jungle is home to two great plains: the Rayana
Savannah and the Yaku Plains, also known as the Plains
of Ash. The Rayana is home to all of the known plains
tribes, as well as to such beasts as the elephants, the
gazelles, the zebras, and the mighty simba, or lion prides.
It is a rolling plain, full of good grasses, regular water
holes, and what few tilled fields as the Nubari create.
The Yaku Plains are yet another informally taboo place.
Here the once-verdant hills are grey with ash and husks of
trees. At its edges, the jungle sends tentative fingers of
greenery into the bleak expanse, but nowhere has it
gained a hold. None of the tribes seems quite sure how
this place was burned, and no one remembers the fire
which turned this area into a blackened ruin. Either that, or
no one will speak of it when the youngsters ask. No jungle
tam’hi will willingly approach this area, and the older tam’hi
grow very quiet when asked about it. Similar questions to
Nubari shamans and elders are met with enigmatic
answers, but those who aspire to become shamans or
witch doctors are often brought here by their teachers to be
told a vague lesson about the foolishness of all humans.

In real life terms, the plateau is somewhere between 2500 and
3500 miles in length (east/west) by 1500-1800 miles north/south,
or roughly twice the size of geographic North America. The
Tribes themselves are much larger than simply a single village,
with most tribes having three or four villages minimum to a tribe.
Much of their territory, is simply considered hunting of foraging
grounds, though for the most part the villages are stable, and
the people do not migrate.

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Geography

Malatra Redux apotheot