The Great Delta of the River Ouhm can be divided into two regions referred to by the locals as "The Living Waters" and "The Still Waters"
The Living WatersEdit
The great river Ouhm winds its lazy way across the continent as it makes its way to the ocean. As it nears its destination the river spreads out over the lowlands where it splits, and splits again, on and on until it forms the Great Delta. This forms a rich, swampy lowland between the plains and the sea. The main body of the river still flows down the center of the delta to the sea and it has been settled by tribes of lizardfolk. Though their race is normally known for hostilities towards any outsiders, these tribes have been influenced by the River Lords, mighty bronze dragons who claimed the river as their own centuries ago. The Ouhm tribes still live simply, wresting an abundant living from the fertile land. They engage in trade of sorts with outsiders by imposing a tax on ship traffic and providing guides through the twisting marsh canals.
Lizardfolk are a cold blooded race and breed slowly compared to mammalians. They must exercise good judgment on when to fight and when to use diplomacy. They are not cowards, and when roused make for dangerous foes, especially when in their natural environment. Eggs in the tribe are closely guarded by the youths and elders of the village while the adult males and females are hunting. While the search for food takes up the majority of their adult life it is not their only pastime. A tribesman spends their free time crafting hunting weapons, snares, and armor as well as intricate carvings on their tools to bring them luck. Evenings are spent gathered around communal fires where stories are told, slow and stylized dances are held, and arguments settled. As part of their manhood rituals, the males of the tribe must take part in a hunt for Dragon Turtles. The males build and repair war canoes and massive harpoons before setting out for the sea. At the edge of the Great Delta, once every 3 years, the immense turtles come here to mate and lay their eggs. The males are highly aggressive and are the targets for the hunters. The beasts are capable of snapping the canoes like toothpicks, so the males must be ready to fight from the ship or in the water. It is a dangerous hunt, but highly rewarding. Not only is the tribe well fed for many months, but the tough hide makes the finest armor while the 15’ shells make for sturdy shelters. When a hunter is killed the tribe gathers to consume the body, bones, scales, and all. The hunter’s final act is to sustain the tribe as they did in life.
Contact with the Outside WorldEdit
While the lizardfolk rarely leave their own swamp, a great number of ships seek to travel from the sea up the waterways until the Ouhm river reforms into a single channel. The canals are constantly shifting with time make most maps outdated in a season. For the lizardfolk however, they can unerringly find their way. Their rates are not exorbitant, and nearly every captain sees the benefit of hiring one for the trip. When passing through regions controlled by larger tribes the ships must pay a tax of either gold or useful trade goods.
Depending on the season, the tribes will sometimes sell rare herbs that only grow in the marshes and swamps in the area. One of the most abundant prey animals in the swamp are a type of eel that lives off small shrimp and vermin. The lizardfolk subsist primarily on these creatures, along with large snakes, crocs, and marsh deer. The tribes are quite skilled at smoking the eels and will trade their excess supplies as well. They have little use for most commodities, but will trade for precious metals and gems they admire. The lizardfolk view most outsiders as wasteful and destructive to the environment, causing few to feel welcome in their communities. They feel that most races take too much from the land and give back too little. They clear-cut fields instead of eating what the land has already provided them. They have very little in the way of agriculture despite the fertile delta soil, though the shaman of the tribes will often keep areas of land in the village planted with useful herbs.
Smaller tribes are governed locally by elder shamans. They are responsible for the well being of not only the village, but of the wildlife and land around them. They must ensure that their village does not take too much from the land lest they suffer lean months in following seasons. Once a year prominent members of the village travel to one of the three largest cities in the Delta where they speak with other leaders and take council with the River Lords.
Three large tribes form the backbone of the region, the Gist, the Hruthrip, and the K’issp. They make their homes on the largest islands in the delta where they have erected stone structures, temples, and statues. In each city one of the River Lord dragons makes their lair and rules over their section of the delta. In cooperation, they have kept general peace and continued trade despite the dangers of the land all around them. In these cities outsiders are more common and tolerated better than in the remote regions.
The island of the Gist sits at the head of the Great Delta, where the river begins to split. It is a trade port where ships from the canals offload their goods onto ships more suited for traveling up and down the river. It has no walls, but nearly all of its largest buildings are made from stone brought up from the river. The palace of the River Lord Eruistajemhatl and his mate Kressingutal lies at the tip of the island so that part of it can touch the river. The pair spends only part of their time here, preferring to take on a humanoid form to mingle with their citizens. The city sees fewer of the dangers of the deep swamps and usually only has to contest with Halfling river pirates.
Main Article: Hruthrip
Hruthrip lies near the center of the Great Delta and is a harsher place than the cities at the far ends of the Delta. Here, the swamps press in close to the city bringing with it more dangerous creatures. The city is the only one with walls, formed of both stone and wood with tall towers to see over the tops of the trees. Most of the lizardfolk within the walls are rigorously trained to be better warriors, hunters, or servants of nature. The River Lord Brestuloper rules the island alone, his mate fell prey to the Black Dragons of the deep swamps.
Main Article: K'issp
K’issp is a large coral island at the edge of the Great Delta and the sea. It has a sheltered harbor and is the main stopping point for sea traffic. It is here that cargo is transported off the deep keeled ocean going ships and transferred over to flat bottomed barges and rafts to be moved through the waterways up river. Merchants often hire lizardfolk guides and whatever guards they can find to protect their goods. Istawuuhl and Puyuyan rule the island and surrounding seas. They do their best to ensure ships are kept safe from predation and that the merchants remain honest.
The Still WatersEdit
The farther from the central waterways one travels, the more one finds danger lurking everywhere. The ground remains low, worn flat by eons of coursing water. Standing pools of stagnant water are common. Dry hummocks of land are too few and far between. Often these supposed safe areas are marred by sucking mud pits and surrounded by bogs. Dry areas are always claimed by creatures that arrived there first. From vipers and monstrous insects to panthers and hydra, native creatures have found these islands long before you. Life is abundant in the swamps despite the hazards. There are numerous small insects and water life that feed birds, eels, crabs, and snakes. The lizardfolk venture out into the deeper areas when their own territory is overgrazed, however this is a gamble. In the darker reaches of the swamp dwell many tribes of hostile humanoids.
The least of the tribes are the Boggards, amphibious frogmen who feed off of anything they can catch. The tribes are constantly moving to avoid the Merrow, amphibious ogres who travel in family groups. When a tribe is discovered by a roaming family group, the merrow eat as many tribesmen as they can catch, and then enslave the rest. They found a new village and live off of the boggards until they have used the tribe up. Then the family sets out to find a new tribe. This process can take several years depending on the size of the boggards and their skill at keeping the merrow fed other prey. The merrow are disgusting brutes that breed within their own groups, creating hideously deformed ogrekin. It is uncommon for family groups to join unless there is enough food to feed their ravenous appetites. When the food becomes scarce the groups may splinter and form several new groups that go their own way before the more aggressive ones cannibalize them.
Contact with the Outside WorldEdit
The powerful beings in the swamp push their minions to bring them riches, treasure, and captives. This brings the merrow and boggards into violent conflict with the lizardfolk and merchants traveling on the river. The lizardfolk are better organized and generally better warriors giving them an edge in most battles. The lizardfolk fight back when threatened, sometimes even wiping out whole villages of boggards and merrow to protect themselves, but rarely push on to continue the fight. The denizens of the swamp do not trade with outsiders; they take by force, or are forced to give up their own goods by someone stronger. With other boggard tribes this does not always end in violence. Two leaders can try to out-intimidate the other and force their opponent to give in to their demands. They may demand food, treasure, weapons, or captives. Captives, especially non-boggards, are highly prized. If a tribe is ruled by a merrow family group, the captive will serve as a distraction and spare the boggards several days if the captive is strong enough. If a tribe is free from these tyrants, they hold a ritual with the entire tribe in attendance. The captive is eaten alive, piece by piece among the tribesmen in the belief that their flesh will give them mighty powers.
At the top of the food chain, are the great Black Dragons. These undisputed lords of the swamps build immense underwater lairs with many passages and store rooms. Around them they gather merrow family groups and vast villages of boggards. Boggards and merrow are forced to labor over massive temples designed to continue to function even when their massive weights cause them to settle farther into the swamp. The oldest temples might have dozens of chambers now below the waters. There are numerous dragons scattered throughout the swamp. They often spend their time sniping at each other with swift and brutal raids into each other’s territory. Younger dragons are often caught and consumed by their elders, keeping their population under control. The ones that manage to escape immediately set to work subjugating their own tribes and carving out their own niche. Two or more Black Dragons might band together to raid the central Delta but these alliances rarely last once the pillage begins to accumulate and it comes time to divide the treasure and captives.
Dangers of The Great DeltaEdit
Crocodiles – The swamps are subject to flooding when rain falls hard anywhere upriver. Some areas of the swamp are shallower than others making it easier to travel. However, the crocodiles here have evolved ways to deal with dry seasons. They dig out large pits called solution holes that hold the water for longer periods. These holes are often 20’ across and deep enough that a tall man would be in over his head. Besides crocodiles, these holes offer shelter to birds, snakes, and turtles. Not every hole is populated by crocodiles, however if one is in residence then it will defend its territory if disturbed or if prey approaches to within 10’ and they are hungry.
Serpents – There are a myriad of serpents that glide silently through the swampy lands. From poisonous, swimming water moccasins to larger constrictors in the trees, these creatures are perhaps the most populous of the swamp predators. While the larger constrictors are solitary creatures, entire nests of vipers can be stumbled upon by the unwary.
Flora – Other than the usual hazards of poisonous or thorny plants, there are some specific dangers to watch for. Assassin vines find the area to be rich with life to feed their hungry roots. They are not choosy between grabbing a bird or a passing adventurer. Giant Flytraps grow in clusters throughout the region. Their sickly sweet aroma draws in many animals and insects to their massive jaws. The slightest feeling of movement cause the powerful jaws to clamp shut, while pores inside secrete digestive juices.
Other Dangers – While boggards, merrow, and lizardfolk make up most of the sentient life in the swamps, there are other life forms that lurk here. Green hags prowl and gnash their teeth in hatred of other life and take great pleasure in snuffing it out. Flights of harpies make their homes in the tops of trees growing on dry hummocks. From here they hunt the large flocks of birds that nest in the area for food, and the other humanoids for sport. Finally, the occasional Scrag (aquatic troll) wanders through the trackless canals seeking to fill their ravenous appetites.