5 months ago
Flora and Fauna of The Bleeding Wilds
By Vala Edrasdottír, Adventurer and Natural Historian
Part I: The Badlands of Lahar
These peculiar, humpbacked lagomorphs are endemic to many of the drier regions of the Lahar Badlands. Their splayed, shaggy feet are ideal for quick traversal of shifting sands, while their distinctive jaw-like facial markings do much to deter many would-be predators. Unlike many other creatures of the Lahar deserts, sand-scurries are diurnal, able to withstand the intense heat and carry large quantities of moisture in their humps.
Sand-scurries travel in small family groups, burrowing down at night when many larger predators are abroad and bounding many leagues each day in search for nutritious twistree pods. Such is their relative docility, familial loyalty, and talent for sniffing out the sparse groves of twistrees that dot the endless dunes, that they have become a favoured mount of the nomadic Lahareth aelves. I myself had the opportunity to travel with a band of Lahareth for a season, and experienced the remarkable dexterity and surprising intelligence of these beasts for myself.
Ghur may be known primarily for its predators, but pure aggression does not a functioning ecology make. Sand-scurries are obligate herbivores, and their primary source of food comes in the form of the enigmatic twistree.
When not flowering or fruiting, these plants appear as gnarled, twisting snags, jutting incongruously from the desert landscape in peculiar clusters. The visible portion of the twistree is a mere portion of the whole, however, and each of these sickly green bowers is a single organism, its roots sinking deep below the skin of ghur to the hidden veins of water beneath. When their vivid pink flowers are fertilised, twistrees sprout bulging, translucent fruiting bodies, each full of thousands of miniscule seeds suspended in a rich amber nectar. The Lahareth aelves prize these pods, which they gather from the trees with long hooks, as a single fruit tapped for its nectar can keep an entire family fed and watered for a week. Wild herds of sand-scurries feast upon the fruit they knock from trees, then, when they burrow beneath the sand at night, excrete the seeds below the earth: the perfect place for them to begin the cycle anew.
Megafauna of immense size and ferocious strength, twistree anglers are surprisingly subtle in their approach to hunting. These enormous predators, their hideous countenance and strange mix of hippopotamus, fell-bat, and ghurlion, burrow beneath the sand and wait for their prey to come to them. The only visible portion of the monster are its antlers, near-perfect imitations of desert twistrees, down to fleshy, fragrant growths imitating the prized fruit. The single most useful piece of wisdom imparted upon me by my Lahareth companions was this: never harvest from a twistree grove with less than three boughs.
4 months ago
Flora and Fauna of the Bleeding Wilds: Part IV
Flora and Fauna of The Bleeding WildsBy Vala Edrasdottír, Adventurer and Natural HistorianPart IV: Children of the BleedForewordIn all my years studying the vast biodiversity of the mortal realms, I have never had the opportunity to witness such a cataclysmic event as the Bleed, and the effect such a catastrophe has on the local flora and fauna. Until now, of course. The Lahar Badlands, or rather the 'Scarlands' as many have taken to calling them upon their merging with Silverside, are home to an eclectic mix of life from both regions. It is a testament to life's resilience that any survive at all, what with the calamitous merging of two vastly different ecosystems, not to mention the constant warring and magical upheaval that have characterised these most turbulent of times. Stranger than the survivors of the Bleed, however, are its children. Populations of creatures mutated by their exposure to the magic of their opposite realm. In this final chapter of my journeys through the Bleeding Wilds, I shall describe some of these bizarre and wondrous anomalies. MetalithodonCaptain Castian of the Stormdancer and I have had a… tumultuous relationship over the course of our acquaintance. I do not approve of his single-minded crusade against the beasts of the realms, but he has always been courteous in showing me his, ah, specimens, shall we say. I was surprised when he reached out to me a few days ago to inform me of a particularly peculiar find, for our acquaintance had never extended to formal invitations in the past. I am most glad that he did, however, for this singular discovery was most intriguing indeed: Castian claimed to have hunted a floating lithodon.After thoroughly chastising him for killing the creature rather than taking it alive for study, I asked to see the grisly trophy. A most irritatingly rakish grin split Castian's face as he gestured for a pair of orruks to bring the thing out, and I soon learned why. Despite being cut from the body, the lithodon's head continued to float serenely in the air. The characteristic rocky growth on the poor thing's forehead was significantly larger than any specimen I had encountered before, and rippled with a subtle, corruscating argent glow. It reminded me of nothing less than a miniature metalith embedded in the poor creature's severed head.I surmised that it must be a singular quirk of chamonite mutation, but was surprised to hear that Castian had in fact encountered an entire herd of identical beasts floating languidly across the Hollow Plains. He very kindly lent me a guide from his own crew, a fellow named Silvatoof, who did indeed possess a most impressive set of metal teeth. The orruk was a surprisingly pleasant traveling companion, and a commendable tracker. Before long, we had sight of the creatures.The herd floated serenely along, their limbs dangling a foot above the earth. When one encountered a scrubby ghyrflesia, its cranial growth began to glow slightly brighter, and it lowered itself down to dig the plant from the earth before lifting it to its mouth. This was a further behaviour I had never encountered in lithodons before. Their forelimbs are articulated enough, but I had never seen them used for anything but digging and scratching. Then, as if sensing my confusion, the creature turned to look me directly in the eye, even from the not inconsiderable distance from which I observed. It may have been my imagination, but I detected a spark of intelligence there that I had never witnessed in any lithodon before. I confess that I do not know what this development portends, but I have a feeling that the metalithodon, as I have dubbed it, shall be most successful, and I would not be surprised if they began to outcompete their forebears in this region in the very near future.VenomtoothIt is an unfortunate side effect of the newness of the subspecies propagated by the magical turmoil of the Bleed that very little of the information I can provide can be grounded in more than educated speculation, as demonstrated by the previous section. The genesis of the venomtooth is not so oblique, however, for it is rooted directly in the events described in my previous examination of the Lumbertooth. As I had feared back in my earlier writings, the Lumbertooth population was decimated by the tainting of the mineral deposits they relied upon to form their distinctive rocky "teeth". However, a small, surviving population seems to have adapted to this hardship in a most peculiar manner. With distended bodies and necks swollen with goitres, one would be forgiven for thinking that the venomtooths are barely clinging to life, but, having observed their hunting from a considerable distance, they appear to be scarce less vital than before their poisoning. Where their beaks were previously lined with tough, craggy stones, they now drip with lines of green-tinged quicksilver. Having collected a small sample of this fluid after the beast's departure, I have surmised that it is the result of the combination between the chamonite mercury that bubbles up from Lumbertooth Tor and the creature's own corrosive saliva, previously used to break down minerals for reconstitution into teeth. The hunting patterns of the lumbertooth are well documented. They are ambush predators, stalking prey before chasing them down and despatching them with a combination of kicks, pecks and bites. However, the venomtooths that I have observed appear to have forsaken their usual ferocity, only attacking for long enough to wound their prey with their beak. After this, they will follow their prey sedately while it succumbs to the poison, the quicksilver seemingly made far more potent by its combination with the bird's own natural corrosive saliva. The venomtooth does not appear to hurry to claim its kill, for no other ghurish predator would dare to imbibe such tainted meat, and any that do simply add to the venomtooth's feast My primary concerns with the longevity of this new subspecies are thus. They do appear to be suffering from their poisoned state, despite their use of it. Only the hardiest individuals have survived long enough to take on this new behaviour, but they still show distinct signs of bodily dysfunction and decay. This also calls into question their ability to reproduce, especially with the documented reduction of reproductive capability in sufferers of mercury poisoning. Beyond that is whether their minds are too addled to even consider reproducing, for every individual I have observed has shown tremendous aggression towards its own kind, a far cry from the tight-knit familial structures that previously categorised the species. If course, this is mere speculation, and only time will tell the fate of the venomtooth, and by extension the lumbertooth species as a whole.Scurry-SandHere is another creature I was contacted directly about, and far stranger a mutation than anything I have seen before. The matriarch of the Lahareth family I had previously stayed with, and the subject of a very brief fling during that time, sent an urgent message to me explaining that multiple of their sand-scurries had apparently crumbled to dust before reconstituting themselves from the very sand. Had I not had such respect for the matriarch, or had I not grown up in Chamon and witnessed firsthand the transmutative effects of the realm of gold, I may have dismissed these claims as ridiculous.Instead, I made my way to Choggrish Market, where the matriarch had asked to meet. As I waited for the arrival of my contacts, I explored the market, which was much changed since my last visit, suffused with new business brought by the multitudes of different folk brought to Lahar by the Bleed. After being accosted by an enthusiastic ogor who seemed absolutely awestruck by my status as an author, I sat down to sample a slice of jellied fangmora purchased from a gargant on the market's outskirts. No sooner had I bitten into my meal than the very desert sand in front of me appeared to spring to life. I was so taken aback that I dropped my snack, and it took me a moment to recognise that the creature nuzzling me was in fact my mount from that previous expedition to the Badlands of Lahar.Her handler came running a moment later, apologising profusely before he recognised me. I was brought to the matriarch, Aerona, who was overseeing the setting of the family's camp. She greeted me warmly before explaining the situation. Just as I had expected, the change had occurred when the nomads had passed into Silverside through the bleed, and since then many of the family's sand-scurries had taken to shifting from their usual lagomorph form to merging with the desert sand with alarming regularity. If I am honest, there is little more that I can say about what I have playfully dubbed "Scurry-Sands". I imagine that their ability to reduce themselves to sand will be a consummate boon to surviving the predations of twistree anglers, but their usefulness as mounts and pack animals has been greatly diminished by their propensity to disappear out from under their riders. Nevertheless, I do not anticipate they will face any particular hardship, for they are family to the Lahareth who ride them, even if their use is lessened. And Aerona is one of the most cunning aelves I have met on my travels; I'm sure she'll find a way to utilise these unprecedented new abilities for the good of her clan.AfterwordSo ends another volume of my travels. The region seems to have settled into itself, while the warring across it appears to be reaching a fever pitch. I fear that there is little more to gain from my staying, and I only endanger myself by doing so. I have heard, however, that my former home has become stranded in Ghur. My knowledge of this realm is much greater than any who dwell there, and I have begun to muse on whether I might be of any use in acclimatising my former people to their new home. Of course, my return would be predicated on Breyla having been humbled somewhat by her misadventures. Or… perhaps it is I who could stand to be more humble. I have met many people and seen many things in the years since my departure. Perhaps it is time that I admit my own impetuousness. And, besides, I think that Kladi would like to see her again. I should probably apologise for that, too. Alas, I am rambling once more. All that remains to be said is, as always, thank you. My readers' continued support is what allows me to persist in my academic pursuits, and for that, I am eternally grateful.Until the next adventure,Vala Edrasdottír, Adventurer and Natural Historian
4 months ago
Flora and Fauna of the Bleeding Wilds Part III
Part III: Survivors of the BleedBy Vala Edrasdottír, Adventurer and Natural HistorianIronscale PangolinIt will not surprise many of my longer term readers that my knowledge of the famed ironscale pangolin of Silverside is extensive, owing to my constant travelling companion, Kladi. I took her with me when I fled the city of my birth, Barak-Drak, much to an old flame's chagrin, and she has been an invaluable friend ever since. Indeed, the animosity between my former lover and I after my absconding with her beloved pet is the reason I have avoided returning to Barak-Drak during my exploration of the Bleeding Wilds, especially as she has apparently been made admiral, and evidently has the run of what remains of the place after its crash. But I digress.Ironscale pangolins are arboreal and found across the breadth of Silverside, from the Glittering Hills in the west to Silverholt to the north. Though wild, they can make excellent companions to any who put in the time, and are not a wholly uncommon sight in Barak-Drak. Their most distinctive feature, and what sets them apart from the common pangolin found elsewhere in the more stable parts of the realms, is their eponymous scales. These ferrous lamina are incredibly tough, made up of a lattice of iron and keratin to render the animal near impervious, especially when it curls into a defensive ball. I was, at first, and perhaps a little selfishly, considering my own personal attachment to the creatures, concerned about the well-being of the ironscale pangolin population with the extreme ecological upheaval brought about by the bleed. It would seem that I needn't have worried so. The flora of Ghur tends to have a higher iron content than most realms save for Chamon itself, so the pangolins that have ended up there have not succumbed to brittlescale. Beyond that, the many predators of Lahar have very little means of injuring the pangolins, while many of their natural predators from Silverside have had a far more difficult time adapting to their changing environment. I predict that, once the Bleed dried, ironscale pangolins will fare remarkably well in their new environs.GhyrflesiaOne such high-iron plant is the ghyrflesia, though to any but a creature so adept at filtering toxins as the ironscale pangolin (due largely to its diet of chamonite vegetation, often replete with poisonous compounds), eating this vegetable is not recommended. The ghyrflesia, similar to its much larger cousin, the Verdian Rafflesia, emits a rank odour similar to rotting flesh. In the case of the ghyrflesia, the plump petals are filled with a liquid similar in constitution to stagnant, rotting blood, and the plant is able to move, after a fashion, twisting and gyrating to mimic animal life, though it is still undeniably a vegetable. This puts many of Ghur's herbivores off of trying the plant, and those that do die rapidly from a particularly nasty form of blood poisoning. Some carrion beasts, like the corpse-rippa vulcha, supplement their diets with these plants, their organs already designed to safely consume rotting flesh, while a few herbivores, such as the next creature we shall talk about, have adapted specifically to eat these abundant plants.LithodonThe lithodon is a most curious specimen indeed, sized somewhere between an elephant and a stonehorn, this creature is theorised to be a distant relative to the latter. Just like the stonehorn, it is a shaggy beast with a petrifacted skeleton, and a protrusion of rock on its forehead, though in this case this growth resembles nothing so much as a boulder emerging from the beast's skull. Just like their distant cousins, the lithodon's intelligence is relatively low, but it is significantly less ornery. Their rocky skull-plates are primarily used in intra-herd conflict and mating displays, and occasionally to ram any would-be predators that threaten the herd's young. The most striking difference between lithodons and stonehorns, however, is the front limbs. The front hooves of the lithodon have adapted into appendages similar to hands, though with far less dexterity and only three digits. They use the stone nails on the ends of their fingers to dig up ghyrflesia blooms, their primary food source, roots and all. Their stomachs are perfectly adapted to eating this singular plant, which serves them well, for until the arrival of the ironscale pangolin, they had almost no competition for this abundant food source. The most pressing threat to the lithodons of Lahar at this time is not competition from the ironscale pangolin, however, but a wholly different Silverside native.Horror-Tailed ViperThe horror-tailed viper is fairly commonplace across many of the domains of Chamon, and, while not a creature of chaos, could not exist without it. As the Lord of Change began his conquests across the realm, he brought with him endless hordes of gibbering horrors, some large and others small. Many of these daemonic entities persist across the realm of metal to this day, the most minor of which are often overlooked by witchunters and daemonfinders alike. Indeed, they are far more likely to face predation by those creatures that subsist on arcane matter, for little flesh is more suffused with magic than that of a Daemon of the Changer. Taking advantage of this unique circumstance, the horror-tailed viper has adapted a fleshy growth on the tip of its tail that bears an uncanny resemblance to a minor Daemon of Tzeentch. This snake hides in small caves and hollows, wiggling its tail outside the entrance to mimic the capering of a horror. When a predator approaches what it believes to be a daemonic snack, the viper strikes with its venomous fangs, paralysing its target near instantaneously. Unfortunately for the dull-witted lithodon, the viper's lure passingly resembles a ghyrflesia bloom. To a more discerning eye, the differences are obvious, but lithodons will happily bite onto the undulating tail of a hidden viper. If the beast is lucky, the shock of such a bite will stun or kill the snake before it has a chance to strike, but more often than not the viper injects its venom before succumbing to its wounds. The venom is designed for smaller targets, and so takes longer to kill the lithodon, but it is a slow and agonising death, from what I have observed during my travels. It is fortunate that both species are so widespread in each of their respective realms, for if not, I would worry for the survival of both.Arcane Oniscid Though the arcane oniscid is an arcanophage like those that the horror-tailed viper preys upon, it does not hunt daemons. Indeed, just as more mundane forms of isopodal crustaceans are detritophages, arcane oniscid subsist on the decaying remnants of magic, and are often found at the sites of significant rituals, arcane battles and geomantic confluences, as well as mage towers, where they are considered pests for their propensity to drain magical potential if present in great enough numbers.In form, arcane oniscids vary relatively widely, being not a single species but an order of many. Individuals seem to favour particular lores of magic, though the particular species does not seem to significantly impact this preference. Arcane oscinids, after consuming a significant amount of their preferred form of magic, begin to display attributes inherent to that lore of magic. For instance, an arcane oniscid of Hysh will appear luminous, while its Ulguan equivalent will be wreathed in shadow. Of course, the arcane oscinids of each lore are most prevalent in the realm corresponding to that lore, but it is not wholly rare to find any type in any realm. Surprisingly, arcane oscinids are rather affectionate to those who take the time to bond with them. They prefer mages, of course, who they can siphon excess magic from, but can be easily tamed by anyone with the will to do so. Some unscrupulous, and if you don't mind my editorialising, heartless mages crush oniscids to release enormous bursts of the magical power stored within. Those willing to bond with the creatures may find much more creative, and less brutal, uses for their companion.With the magical turmoil and frequent battle across the Bleeding Wilds, arcane oniscids of unusual potency have been appearing at a much higher rate. The most interesting specimen I have personally found is what I have coined an arcane oscinid of the Bleed, for the creature has attributes of both Chamon and Ghur in equal measure, and in ways that intermix the two as if they were one. I shall continue to study my new friend, but for now I shall simply say that the scientific implications are staggering.AfterwordAs ever, my studies are far from exhaustive. If you wish to learn more about some of the beasts of the Bleeding Wilds not covered here, I would recommend seeking out the cataloguing work of Inosuke the Hunter. Though his writing takes a more, ahem, culinary approach than I, it still comes highly recommended from this humble scholar.
4 months ago
Flora and Fauna of the Bleeding Wilds: Part II
Flora and Fauna of The Bleeding WildsBy Vala Edrasdottír, Adventurer and Natural HistorianPart II: the Peaks of LaharLumbertoothIt may come as a surprise, then, that upon my return to Lahar to study the effects of the Bleed upon the local flora and fauna, I was met with a startling revelation. Word in the taverns of Fairwater, the closest free city and staging ground for my expedition into the badlands, was that the fabled lumbertooths of the Tor had become, in recent weeks, remarkably easy to hunt. Multiple individual specimens had been found languidly wandering the wastes, while others moved with erratic ferocity, attacking anything and everything around them, from inert rock to their own kind. Though hunters had been quick to take advantage, any who ate the flesh of the birds began to exhibit similar symptoms, with an epidemic of violent outbursts and shivering deaths across the city being traced back to a butcher who had bought the tainted meat. If it were not for the not insignificant distance between the city and the badlands, I fear that the event would have been far more catastrophic. I resolved to head into the wastes at the earliest convenience to see the Tor for myself. I booked my way aboard a Kharadron vessel. They did not look kindly upon my abandonment of the code, but took my coin just the same. Upon reaching the Tor it was immediately apparent to me what had happened to the birds: the rocks that they consume to maintain their teeth had been infused with the stuff of Chamon. Growths of stone all across the tor leaked a quicksilver substance, similar in disposition to mercury. I have surmised, therefore, that the ailment is something akin to mercury poisoning, though the substance would have to be far more potent to cause such a magnitude of devastation. I can only hope that the lumbertooth population has the opportunity to recover once all this has passed.SnapjawSome knowledgeable readers may be questioning why I have included snapjaw plants among my writings on the mountainous peaks of the Lahar badlands. Indeed, Snapjaw fields are a common threat across Ghur, with no particular favouring of mountain environs. A single seedpod might blanket a square mile of ghurish wilderness in near perfectly camouflaged vegetable bear-traps within a matter of hours, consuming unwary creatures before fruiting and withering away. The subsequent, once again highly camouflaged, seedpods latch to passing megafauna to continue their lifecycle elsewhere. They are, as I well known, prized by the Kruleboy Warclans for their use as biological minefields, though the seedpods are famously difficult to acquire, being that they're near impossible to spot while on the ground and are otherwise entangled in the fur of something very large and very deadly.It might come as a surprise, then, that there is a people endemic to the Dragonspine mountain range of Lahar that deliberately cultivate snapjaws for food. The rodent-like Crik'Rik people are thought by most scholars to be descended from the Rovskyr of the Starlit Plains of Azyr. They're notable for being much more robust and territorial than their forebears, with strikingly vibrant red and white fur patterns. Though just as intelligent as the Rovskyr, much less is known about the Crik'Rik due to their propensity to violent isolationism. Unless approached with utmost care and respect for Crik'Rik customs, they are like to skewer one on sight. Not that I can blame them, having had more than my fair share of scrapes in the savage lands of Ghur. After careful study, I did exactly so, and was granted a brief audience with the Alderwoman of one of the Crik'Rik hordes (the best translation of their own word, not a judgement made by myself). Here did she appraise me of their remarkable agricultural achievement: the Crik'Rik have developed an edible strain of Snapjaw that is hardy enough to grow in stark mountain soil, poses little bodily risk to harvesters, and is much more visually distinct than its highly concealed cousin. They travel along the mountains, and at each camp plant a seedpod. Still remarkably fast growing, the edible parts of the plant are harvested, while the rest is left to reinvigorate the soil for the next time the horde passes through. In an exchange of gifts, I was given a seedpod for this remarkable strain of vegetable. Having tasted it in various dishes, I can confirm that the flavour is mild and nutty, with a hint of iron. I have kept the resulting seedpods with me since, and they have been very helpful on the road, conferring a week's worth of decent meals and a new batch of seedpods with each use.Mallus HoundThe so-called Mallus hound is another beast with which I can claim no direct contact. Indeed, I regarded the beast as little more than a myth until recently. It was my old friend Nashwar who conferred upon me the truth of the beast when I visited her in Chamon at the very advent of the Bleed, for one such beast had wandered from Ghur in those early days of tumult when we had little idea what was happening; though in retrospect I believe Nashwar had more knowledge of the situation than she let on, for she was already approaching silverside for what she only described as a "venture". She told me of the hound that had come wandering, confused and bloodied, out of the wastes, and filled her cabal's heads with prophecy enough to incapacitate them. This is the hunting method by which the hound takes its name; little do we know of how the Mallus hound produces such an overwhelming onslaught of prophetic vision, but its effect has been likened by those very few survivors as an intensified equivalent to the glimmerings of Excelsis and its Spear of Mallus. I for one can only speculate on such, for Nashwar, whose psychical barriers were strong enough to keep her head clear, duly killed the beast before it had eaten too many gnoblars, and the Cabal feasted upon it forthwith. Sorely disappointed, I was, that Nashwar did not at least keep the brain to send to me for study, as I made very much known. I received only a feline chuckle in response. She did at least provide me with a psychic vision of the creature as she had seen it, from which my illustration is drawn. If Nashwar had known about the nature of the bleed, I do wish she would have told me, for it would have saved me a good deal of travel. I returned to Ghur as soon as possible, knowing that the mountains of Lahar are the only area that Mallus hounds have been sighted, and something must have been very wrong for one to appear in distant Chamon.AfterwordAs ever, my writings are nowhere close to exhaustive, and there exists a much greater biodiversity within both Lahar and Silverside than I could cover here. Some, like flathorns, carnosaurs and terrorpins have been catalogued extensively, most famously in Dzantaster's Bestiary, owing to their abundance in Thondia, seat of Excelsis, the God King's greatest stronghold in the Ghurlands.
5 months ago
Flora and Fauna of The Bleeding Wilds: Part I
Flora and Fauna of The Bleeding WildsBy Vala Edrasdottír, Adventurer and Natural HistorianPart I: The Badlands of LaharSand-ScurryThese peculiar, humpbacked lagomorphs are endemic to many of the drier regions of the Lahar Badlands. Their splayed, shaggy feet are ideal for quick traversal of shifting sands, while their distinctive jaw-like facial markings do much to deter many would-be predators. Unlike many other creatures of the Lahar deserts, sand-scurries are diurnal, able to withstand the intense heat and carry large quantities of moisture in their humps. Sand-scurries travel in small family groups, burrowing down at night when many larger predators are abroad and bounding many leagues each day in search for nutritious twistree pods. Such is their relative docility, familial loyalty, and talent for sniffing out the sparse groves of twistrees that dot the endless dunes, that they have become a favoured mount of the nomadic Lahareth aelves. I myself had the opportunity to travel with a band of Lahareth for a season, and experienced the remarkable dexterity and surprising intelligence of these beasts for myself.Desert TwistreeGhur may be known primarily for its predators, but pure aggression does not a functioning ecology make. Sand-scurries are obligate herbivores, and their primary source of food comes in the form of the enigmatic twistree. When not flowering or fruiting, these plants appear as gnarled, twisting snags, jutting incongruously from the desert landscape in peculiar clusters. The visible portion of the twistree is a mere portion of the whole, however, and each of these sickly green bowers is a single organism, its roots sinking deep below the skin of ghur to the hidden veins of water beneath. When their vivid pink flowers are fertilised, twistrees sprout bulging, translucent fruiting bodies, each full of thousands of miniscule seeds suspended in a rich amber nectar. The Lahareth aelves prize these pods, which they gather from the trees with long hooks, as a single fruit tapped for its nectar can keep an entire family fed and watered for a week. Wild herds of sand-scurries feast upon the fruit they knock from trees, then, when they burrow beneath the sand at night, excrete the seeds below the earth: the perfect place for them to begin the cycle anew.Twistree AnglerMegafauna of immense size and ferocious strength, twistree anglers are surprisingly subtle in their approach to hunting. These enormous predators, their hideous countenance and strange mix of hippopotamus, fell-bat, and ghurlion, burrow beneath the sand and wait for their prey to come to them. The only visible portion of the monster are its antlers, near-perfect imitations of desert twistrees, down to fleshy, fragrant growths imitating the prized fruit. The single most useful piece of wisdom imparted upon me by my Lahareth companions was this: never harvest from a twistree grove with less than three boughs.
5 months ago
A Brief History of Animosity
Welcome, warriors and wanderers alike! Today’s article was meant to be a short story depicting Runefather Haraldr-Grimnir’s first meeting with Iden “the Auric”, Satrap of the Aurannar,* but after some recent conversations in our Discord server, we thought it’d be prudent to assemble our history all in one place. Let us begin…Before we were an Age of Sigmar global narrative event, we were a Warhammer Fantasy Battles global narrative event. After Games Workshop’s successful worldwide Albion and Storm of Chaos campaigns (which you can read more about in a recent White Dwarf article by Phil Kelly!), members of Da Warpath forum for Orcs & Goblins decided they wanted more… and thus, Animosity Campaigns was born. In fact, this is the first ever description of Animosity AFAIK, written by community founder Mogrek Longblade on November 27th, 2004:Q: What is Animosity?A: Animosity is a Warhammer Fantasy Battle campaign designed by warhammer players. It takes place after the Games Workshop Campaign Storm Of Chaos that took place this summer.Q: What is Animosity about?A: Animosity is about an Orc civil war, fought by the ruling factions of a large group of Orcs that banded together to form a massive waaagh during SoC. After SoC the waaagh began to war within itself after the death of the Orc in charge at the hands of Archaon.Q: How can I play in this campaign?A: Well thats actually pretty simple, all you need do, is sign up for one of the forces involved(sign up procedure can be found on our website) and play games of warhammer as you would normally or with one of the lists made for this campaign.Although our WHFB iteration died with the World-That-Was during the End Times, like a phoenix from the flames we were reborn June 1st, 2019 with Animosity I: The Hallowed Necropolis. Set in Ghyran and using an organizational model similar to 2017 and 2018’s Coalescence Global Narrative Events, 40+ players in local groups across the United States, UK and Thailand fought to seize the abandoned Age of Myth era city of Amasya across three ridiculously intense days** of gaming. Because this was much smaller event than Animosity II was and III is shaping up to be, we were able to collect everything- including player contributions- into a single PDF:Animosity I – The Hallowed Necropolis (OMNIBUS)Because this event was so experimental, including it’s scoring, every coalition achieved its primary objective. That said, the Sigmarsmacht Delegation, arguably the very first Dawnbringer Crusade dispatched by Hammerhal to annex Amasya, achieved the most secondary objectives and “won” the campaign, claiming a tenuous hold on the city. After the Slann “Frog Dad” Zectoka brought down a comet and destroyed the necropolis part of the city, a hole was punched through to the Realm of Death, paving the way for Animosity II. Even now, the effects of this war can still be felt in ways such as the re-emergence of Mithridates Alti, exiled prince of Amasya- and some even say war may yet return to what remains of the Hallowed Necropolis. Although a fall 2019 weekender was planned, its story elements were eventually rolled into…… Animosity II – The Burning Winter***. Set in Shyish, our player count more than doubled to 90+ across five weeks. With the pandemic settling in for the long haul in March-April, and Animosity II set to kick off in July, we very nearly decided to cancel the campaign before making a hard pivot back to our forum-based roots. The event duration was expanded from 3 turns over 3 days, to 5 turns over 5 weeks, and the chat client Discord adopted as an event platform in lieu of actual venues. Oddly enough, this organically allowed for a return of many old Animosity features, including diplomacy (and the inevitable backstabbing that comes from it). The amount of GM and, especially, player contributions also skyrocketed. Rather than a single PDF, you can (for now, until we organize it better) view all Animosity II materials here:Setting – History of Lake BykaalSetting – Places and people of Lake BykaalPrologue – What Lurks Below Lake BykaalPrologue – Which Can Eternal LieCoalition – The ExpeditionCoalition – The PilgrimageCoalition – The UndividedCoalition – The WretchedCoalition – PerpetualCoalition – SoulmuncherzSetting – Other Figurehead NPCsSetting – Of Monsters and GodbeastsUnfolding Narrative – Turn 1Unfolding Narrative – Turn 2Unfolding Narrative – Turn 3Unfolding Narrative – Turn 4Unfolding Narrative – Turn 5Unfolding EpiloguePlayer Contributions – Da WarpathPlayer Contributions – Turn 1Player Contributions – Turn 2Player Contributions – Turn 3Player Contributions – Turn 4Player Contributions – Turn 5Rather than fighting for control of the lake, each Coalition pursued their own varied ambitions. Ultimately, the Perpetual- an alliance of Death and Seraphon- succeeded in thwarting the cancerous, irradiating Big Bad that escaped Amasya at the end of Animosity I with the help of all the other Coalitions (more or less). Much, however, was left up in the air, and only the affairs of a single town were resolved during…… the Animosity Weekender 2020, “The Root of All Evil”. Set some months after Animosity II, this one-turn, one-week campaign took place in the town of Bolyany, a superstitious and gnarled turnip-farming village native to Lake Bykaal. The site of several major battles during Animosity II, Bolyany’s vegetable patches drank deep of the spilled blood and, on Mallusnacht, gave birth to the Root, vegetable horrors and boogeymen from the town’s distant past. Three rabble-rouser NPCs- a Hammerhal merchant eager to profit, a local woman baker eager steeped in tradition, and an ancient witch wise in the truth of the Root’s nature- led the defense of the town as the player characters attempted to survive the night. Most did not, but the outcome saw the town survive and Hammerhal’s influence cut from the town like a black spot from a root vegetable- but why am I telling you this? You can read both parts of the Weekender here:Animosity 2020 Weekender – Root of All Evil Event PackAnimosity 2020 Weekender – Root of All Evil Unfolding NarrativeSo, yes- that’s Animosity, to date, in a nutshell. Before I sign off, though, I want to leave you with a glimpse of what we believe makes our campaigns so great. This is an excerpt from the Root of All Evil Unfolding, featuring our writers combining three players stories- one, an exemplar of Sigmar, one, a champion of the Dark Gods, and the third, with a conversion of a giant turnip-hurling catapult:Up ahead, a man stood clad in silver armour, towering above the corpse of one of the turnip monstrosities. Blood already dripped from his wrinkled mouth to stain the robes of the hammer-god that adorned him. The two men faced each other, exhausted, yet with eyes still burning with sheer hatred: a pair of avatars pulsing with the energy of the gods they so represented. The Lector raised his sword, and The Shrouded raised his.Before either could so much as take a step, the heavens broke open. The roof of the Church of Sigmar shattered. Like a great flaming comet, the biggest turnip the knight had ever seen came singing through the night air, wreathed in burning flames. For the most fleeting of seconds, Sigmar’s Lector met the eyes of The Shrouded, and he saw his own horrified expression echoed back at him.And then he knew nothing else.Turnipult!*We reckon you’ll have to check back Monday to eavesdrop on this tense conversation between Haraldr-Grimnir and Iden the Auric…**We hope to re-introduce this three day event model with the fall Animosity Weekenders, which may be returning 2021 but, at worst, no later than 2022.*** “The Burning Winter” name was originally pitched as a soft reboot of our WHFB iteration, after End Times: Nagash had released but before we knew the world as we knew it was ending. The original Burning Winter would have pitted Elector Count Valmir von Raukov against Crom the Conqueror in a war for Ostland.This article written by Alex P aka @LittleSoldierTVThis article was originally published on June 12th 2021