An ancient primal wilderness, the Savage Lands is a jungle that sprawls far to the west of Rathe. This seemingly endless expanse of dense woodland is unrepresented by any map, due to its sheer size and the dangers that lie within. It remains untouched by the passage of time, as generations of humans try and fail to tame or settle any part of the vast jungle.
The first known explorers to survive the Savage Lands described a treacherous and unforgiving landscape, filled with hidden dangers and horrific beasts. With no landmarks to note their passage through the jungle, they found themselves lost within an endless mass of trees, with no way to navigate the jungle. Many members of that first party lost their lives within the wilderness, their corpses left to rot amongst the trees. However, those that survived returned with a wealth of information on the dangers and mysteries of the primordial jungle.
From massive predators to vicious scavengers, poisonous fungi to carnivorous plants, the Savage Lands are host to some of the most unique, treacherous and vile wildlife known to Rathe. Explorers have described being hunted by dark creatures that stalk their prey from the shadows; or watching their fellow adventurers writhe in agony as a deadly toxin spreads through their bloodstream; or trying in vain to hide from some massive, rampaging beast, trampling anything that crosses its path. The Savage Lands is a minefield of unknown dangers, waiting to claim the lives of the careless and the ill-prepared.
Despite the dangers, foolhardy adventurers gather from all over Rathe, attracted by the stories of successful hunts and famed explorers. A growing number of encampments have appeared on the outskirts of the jungle as more adventurers continue to arrive, risking their lives in hopes of achieving fame and fortune.
Call of Adventure
A vast and mysterious jungle, the Savage Lands attracted many prospective explorers, all eager to discover what lay hidden within its depths. Adventurers who entered would inevitably disappear, their bones abandoned amongst the undergrowth; a legacy of the lost. Occasionally, rumours would surface of some brave adventurer who had re-emerged, telling tall tales of horrific beasts and hidden wonders. Many stepped forward to explore the jungle, and yet no one could survive long enough to bring back information on what lay within.
No one, that is, until Theodore Hamilton Scarborough. A researcher who sought to uncover the jungle’s secrets, he amassed a large team of mercenaries and explorers, and led the first successful expedition into the Savage Lands. Of the original twenty-four team members, only five would emerge alive. Scarborough wrote at length about his experiences, an account that would soon be published as the first known information on the fauna and flora of the Savage Lands.
Scarborough’s notes speak at length of the toxic and poisonous plants that lay within the jungle, and the effects that they had upon the people he worked with. Whether it was a team member who decided to try their hand at jungle cuisine, or one man who merely touched a fungus with his hand, he relays their fate with horrifying detail. Convulsing on the ground; foaming at the mouth; eyes rolling back into their skulls as blood seeps from every pore; screaming as they writhe in agony; all of these and more numbered amongst Scarborough’s descriptions, from mad, illogical ramblings to vomiting up one’s own intestines.
However, not all of the plants found within the Savage Lands seem to have such disastrous side-effects. Scarborough hints at the existence of a small number of beneficial and restorative species from the jungle’s depths, though his work provides only one account of such a plant.
The bestiary notes from Scarborough’s work detail an even more horrifying reality. From great, scaled beasts with dripping fangs, to creatures with crystalline skin and serrated limbs, the creatures in the Savage Lands seem to be nothing short of lethal. Elite predators and monstrous beasts populate the jungle, striking down their prey with deadly accuracy, tearing apart their prey to glean every last scrap of muscle and marrow; their gaping maws drip with blood, beady eyes gleaming in the dark as they devour the raw flesh of their prey. In the shadows behind them, small scavengers lurk, waiting for the opportunity to pick apart the remains for scraps of muscle and marrow.
Primal, aggressive, and deadly, the creatures of the Savage Lands possess traits that make them deadly to anything that crosses their path. It is these exact traits that were the basis for Scarborough’s extensive research.
On one of his expeditions, Scarborough and his crew were taking an opportunity to rest when a group of feral humans ambushed them just before dawn. This was the first recorded encounter with hecklers, thus named by Scarborough for their quick and quiet attacks.
“It is my experience that hecklers rarely seek true confrontation. Like tiny birds, they flit in, snatch what they desire, and disappear just as quickly as they had arrived. Despite my best efforts, I have failed to encounter many hecklers, only catching glimpses on the occasion that they ambush my crew.”
Of course, this could not begin to compare to Scarborough’s next encounter with a sentient creature inside the jungle. On the very same expedition, his campsite was once again ambushed, yet this time the experience was markedly different.
“A pack of great, hulking beasts came charging out of the trees. They were one and again the size of my largest man, with thick hides and beady red eyes. I barely had time to escape with my life. I witnessed several of the beasts hunched over one of my men, tearing open his flesh with their bare hands, entrails hanging from their gaping maws. While I fled, their screams followed me, echoing through the trees.”
After this encounter, Scarborough managed to escape the jungle alive, and soon returned on another expedition. In later years, he returned home to pursue his research, and conduct experiments based around his time in the Savage Lands. It is these experiments that led to the creation of the invalesco serum, and the work that would make him famous across all of Rathe.
These massive beasts are vicious, bloodthirsty, and incredibly hostile. Brutes are deeply territorial, and one of the deadliest creatures within the Savage Lands. They tower over all humans, almost double the height of the average man, with the muscle mass to match. Their immense strength and violent natures make them incredibly dangerous opponents.
While sentient, they are slow and unintelligent, relying mainly on strength and brute force to decimate their prey. They often collect trophies from their fallen prey; from small skulls tied onto their armour, to locks of hair or ears attached to a belt, or armour decorated with hides and fur.
Legends and Fools
Tales of Scarborough’s time in the jungle have attracted adventurers from all over Rathe, drawn by tales of monstrous beasts and incredible battles. The allure of the untamed wilderness proves impossible to resist for many, a mysterious region filled with legendary creatures. One after another, would-be heroes arrive to challenge the wilds within.
For some, it is a chance to prove one’s own abilities, pitted against dangerous beasts and the jungle itself in a savage battle to the death. For others, it is a chance for fame, to reach the legendary status that Scarborough has achieved. Yet others arrive seeking fortune, pursuing the lucrative contracts offered by corporations, researchers, and those wishing to cull the beasts within.
Forward camps have appeared along the jungle outskirts, small makeshift towns of ramshackle huts and tents, built by merchants looking to profit from the high demand for supplies.
A clever trader sets up contracts with the scientific community back home, taking requests from biomancers and alchemists in advance. Then, the trader buys several wagons worth of supplies, and travels to the forward camps, where they set up shop and get settled in. While there, they can not only sell supplies to those who come through, but buy samples and specimens from those returning from the jungle. Once they’ve acquired all of the items on their list, they simply pack up shop and return home to sell their goods at inflated prices.
This system has become the groundwork for a network of forward camps, scattered along the perimeter of the Savage Lands. Adventurers will trek into the jungle, see what they can salvage, and return to the forward camps to sell to merchants seeking samples from within the jungle. There are also a growing number of mercenaries who travel to the forward camps, looking to accept a contract on a particular beast. These creatures are often difficult to find and incredibly dangerous, but for those willing to risk their lives, these contracts are also incredibly lucrative.
Some researchers come to the Savage Lands themselves, setting up in the forward camps to make contracts directly. Occasionally, one particularly reckless researcher may decide to employ a small team of hired hands and enter the jungle themselves. Sometimes, this is to study their field of research hands-on, looking at plants and creatures in their natural environment. Sometimes, this is because they are searching for a rare item, one that only an expert could identify. Other times, it is to conduct their experiments somewhere secluded, where nobody can hear the screaming…
Of course, not everyone who comes to the Savage Lands is a trader, researcher or fortune seeker. The knights of Solana are also a regular sight within the camps, helping with defense in exchange for a safe place to rest in-between patrols. These knights pursue a nobler cause, hunting down the beasts within in order to protect the villages that lie beyond the outskirts of the Savage Lands.