While situated to reap the bounty of the sea, Sasserine faces numerous challenges in regards to its surrounding lands. For those who dare adventure beyond the safety of stone walls, the following presents an overview of the most noteworthy locales and geographic features within the Sasserine area of influence.
Frequent rains, humid heat waves, powerful rivers, and seasonal monsoons nurture tangled jungles and sprawling swamps in the region surrounding Sasserine. Those who brave the wilds are sure to encounter the rich and often dangerous flora and fauna that flourish within these fecund reaches. The jungle is a dangerous place to idly traverse.
This lush tropical jungle dominates the region. Ancient, widely spaced trees form a dense canopy, which in turn cloaks the jungle floor in an endless green night. Broadleaf plants, creeping vines, pervasive streams, and tracks of bogs characterize the jungle floor. All manner of insects and animals (some of monstrous size), predatory plants, oozes, and even occasional will-o’-wisps, hags, hydras, or black dragons lair in these verdant depths. Far from civilization clans of lizard-folk, bullywugs, and strangely colored goblins make their homes, along with primitive tribes of short humans known as the Olman and lithe, dark-skinned elves called the grugach.
There are many stories behind the color of Blood Bay. Some old salts hold that the waves run scarlet with the blood of Gulratha, a kraken too wounded by sailors to return to the open ocean. Others think it a pirate plot, the entire bay dyed red in an effort to scare the curious away from their underhanded dealings. Sages scoff at both ideas, claiming the bays unique coloring is merely the result of iron deposits swept down from the mountains by the Hungry Fish River.
Crab RiverCut-off—to a degree—from the larger predators of the Amedio Jungle, the swamps around the Crab River are largely considered safer than those to the east. As such, smugglers, outcasts, and followers of a gruesome aggregate religion make the river banks their home. Despite the river’s name, aside from small populations of crayfish and hermit crabs, no sizable species of crustaceans scuttle below these meandering waters. Local legends tell of a chuul-like creature of incredible size that lairs deep within the swamp and whenever someone goes missing on the river, local swampers are quick to claim that “Ol’Rek Claw gottem!”
The Emerald River takes its name from a unique form of algae that grows atop its slow-moving water. Sapping minerals from the river bank and the runoff from the Hellfurnaces, this green vegetation forms a quartz like layer that, from a distance, looks like sheets of floating emerald. While quite beautiful, the shiny algae makes perfect camouflage for the slick scales of the crocodiles, snakes, frogs, and gigantic varieties of each that lurk within.
Volcanic instability, violently changing features, frigid winds, and searing lava flows all characterize this angry range of mountains. Extremely difficult to travel and inhospitable to the majority of life, only the most rugged and determined creatures—often those that relish scorching heat and flame hunt these treacherous heights.
Hungry Fish River:
Coursing through some of the densest stretched of jungle before meeting up with the Tiger River and feeding into Blood Bay, Hungry Fish River is avoided by locals as much for the dangerous animals—and worse—that stalk its banks as for the malicious piranha swarms that are its namesake. Rumor has it that tiny fish have even learned to capsize canoes and skiffs by rushing them en masse from the side.
Largely isolated from the rest of the Azure Sea by the Hellfurnaces on one side and the Hook Peninsula on the other, Jeklea Bay spent many years as a holding of the Sea Princes before public unrest and assassinations arranged by the Scarlet Brotherhood saw it fall into anarchy. Though the now-autonomous city of Sasserine has begun to emerge as the main power in the region, Brotherhood ships still frequently ply the waters along this coast to maintain their holdings in the rich and fertile southern jungles. Due to the bay’s shape, a steady current swirls the waters counterclockwise along the shore, speeding the passage of frequent merchant, smuggler, and slaver ships as they spur on the sudden resurgence of colonization in the Amedio.
Rumored to be guarded by the legendary Kraken Gulrotha, this cove is shrouded in mystery. Barely visible is a dark patch among the rock, any safe port here is walled off from the rest of the bay by a wide swath of reefs, rocks, and the occasional scuttled ship, lead-tipped masts just inched below the waves.
Thundering down from the Hellfurnaces, crashing falls and deadly rapids exemplify this frothing whitewater river. The two largest falls, the Crushwater (5 miles from the Thunder River) and Jairador’s Leap (10 miles from the Thunder River), bar the waterway from any substantial use in commerce or travel. Seemingly just for that reason a semi-permanent encampment of monks, the Speakers of the Roaring Way, resides in an area of numerous cascades and Cliffside grottos between the two greater falls.
Thunder River is the lifeblood of Sasserine’s thriving lumber industry. Lumberjacks upriver in the dense jungles south of Castle Rakin fell huge numbers of exotic hardwood trees, limbing and floating logs downstream to Sasserine for milling and shipping. Along the way, the logs are tended by the brave and foolhardy logriders, who make the thirty-plus-mile journey balanced on crudely-lashed log bundles and wielding long pikes, both to prevent jams and to guard shipments from competing logging concerns. Pay for both the lumberjacks and logriders is high, as in addition to the standard hazards of their job they must keep a sharp eye out for lizardfolk, river monsters, and the deadly rapids and waterfalls that give the river its name.
While tigers and other large predators do inhabit the eastern reaches of the Amedio Jungle, the Tiger River takes its name from the ferocity of its aquatic inhabitants. The river is best known for its population of a rare freshwater species of seacat. The bright scales and pelts of these tropical magical beasts fetch high prices, making hunting for the aquatic felines as lucrative as it is deadly.
Outside its city walls, Sasserine directly controls and relies upon several assets in the surrounding region.
Paralleling the Thunder River for much of its length, the Amedio Highway connects Sasserine with Cauldron, its sister city in the caldera of a dormant volcano. Although trade and correspondence between the two cities is brisk, the road’s length is such that its possible to go for long stretches without encountering other travelers. Much like the river, the Amedio Highway is relatively safe and crowded with merchant and lumber traffic where it runs through the marshlands and plantations close to Sasserine, but those who press on into the jungle find themselves increasingly at risk of being waylaid by lizardfolk, predators, and the occasional hunter from the heights of the Hellfurnaces.
Angry-looking, red Hellfurnace rock and patches of swamp mold give Blisterwall fortress both its name and a perpetually sore, gangrenous look. Positioned to defend Sasserine’s eastern plantations from jungle threats, the relatively secluded and perpetually moist location makes the post the least appealing in the Sasserine military. The only serviceman who regularly refuses relocation is Erlyn Sveld, a scout who has successfully captured and trained several Hellfurnace hippogriffs and who is considered the most experienced mountain tracker in the region.
The reinforced wooden palisades of Castle Rakin make a regular stopping-off point for lunberjacks and traders along the Thunder River. While the castle proper in merely a three story stone fortification surrounded by two curtains of sturdy wooden walls, the entire fort is referred to as “the castle.” Although it maintains a small garrison of troops, the fort functions more as a trading post, with noisy crowds of merchants, guides, jungle natives, and charlatans hocking their wares and services along the docks. Much of the business conducted at Castle Rakin would be frowned upon with Sasserine itself, but considerable kickbacks to the fort’s commanding officer, Major Augustine Meravanchi assures that business proceeds unimpeded.
A thick walled coastal fortress erected by the Sea Princes who once held dominance in the region, Fort Fendawor now serves as a harbor for Sasserine’s depleted naval powers. Few sea-worthy ship moor in the natural harbor beneath the fort’s protective ballistae, the majority patrolling the coast and open sea in hunt of pirates. The fiery tempered Commodore Brandlock commands the forces at Fort Fendawor and holds the eradication of piracy in the region as his personal crusade. Unfortunately,his efforts are frustrated by limited men, resources, and ships, as well as misinformation—much of which he fears come from the Crimson Fleet operatives within his own fort.
Just outside Sasserine, nearly 25 miles of jungle and swamp along the Thunder River have been cleared for use as sprawling privately-owned plantations. Providing food crops and exports for the city, the river’s seasonal flooding makes the land particularly rich, although those who farm it constantly battle reencroaching jungle vegetation and beasts. Cassava, coffee, cotton, millet, rice, sugarcane, and tea—as well as some more traditional farfm crops—make up Sasserine’s plantations’ most abundant products. Aside from their products, a few particular plantations bear noting
Boudinot Plantation: Run by the obese Boss Remming Boudinot, it’s rumored that his fields of high growing sugarcane disguise a harvest of criminal crops and hide other nefarious dealings
Dromdal Plantation: The sharp-tongued yet genteel Josiah Imfrid Dromdal commands the largest platation (cotton and tea) in the area. His greatest prides are his handsome manor house and widely desired daughter, Chablis. Josiah’s six strapping sons prove quick to defend both his and their sister’s honor.
Hoag Plantation: A cursed place, this untended plantation and manor house once belonged to Isaiah Terrence Hoag a former trader captain who frequented many port cities. Terrence made an excellent living working under the rule of the Sea Princes. He eventually married Jenna Gosalar. They had an extravagant lifestyle and hosted some of the city’s finest balls. The couple brought five children into the world. Beverly the oldest married Mirval Adams and moved to Seawall point with her husband. Isaiah caught his wife cheating on him and supposedly went insane. He dragged his wife to a nearby quicksand bog and threw her in. It is said that he smoked his pipe while she slowly sank beneath the muck. When her corpse returned to slay her treacherous husband, the plantations fearful workers burned the manor and forever fled. The children were sleeping in their beds and perished along with the husband. Beverly Adams was the sole heir to the plantation