Edge of Darkness: The Broken Circle
The Blood Plains are a land of hunger and violence. The crimson Bloodgrass can be found nearly everywhere, and the druids of Narola are doing their best to keep it from encroaching on the lands of nearby nations. The only creature that can eat the Bloodgrass are an ostrich-like creature known (creatively) as Bloodrunners. They have keen eyes and ears, and can move swifter than most horses. Because of their diet, their meat is low in nutrition, and little else on the Bloodrunner is usable. Even alive, the Bloodrunners cannot be used as mounts, as they too skittish to tame, and lack the strength to carry even a light load.
The predators native to the Blood Plains have adapted to deal with the Bloodrunners as their sole source of food. They have become extremely stealthy, can sprint very fast, and many can do considerable damage in a short amount of time, in order to keep the Bloodrunner from running away. Because of the proliferation of Bloodrunners, and the poor quality of their meat, the predators of the Blood Plains hunt constantly, and view any other possible source of meat (such as orcs, elves and knights) as preferable.
The Blood Plains were not always like this. They were once the homeland of a lizard-like species known as the Dyriskilssi. These creatures were a splinter group of Hisskarssi that had fled the Hisskarssi lands. The Dyriskilssi had fallen on hard times, and had turned to the worship of Dyradak. Temples to Dyradak were everywhere in Dyriskilssi civilization, and it is suspected that their corrupting influence tainted both the land and the Dyriskilssi themselves, and the orcs that had been pushed onto the land after the Demon War. The Dyriskilssi were eventually taken down by an alliance of knights and elves, but not before the Bloodgrass had started to spread.
The only sentient race that begrudgingly call the Blood Plains home are the orcs. The orcs are forced to either try to live off of the Bloodrunners (a task for which the orcs have not adapted for, and the reward is extremely poor meat), or raid the neighboring civilizations. All attempts at farming or raising livestock in the Blood Plains have failed, due to the effects of the Bloodgrass.
The neighboring nations have grown tired of constant raids by the orcs on their territory, and three of them ( Luminairre, Davinguard, and Qual-Evan) have formed the Shield Alliance to keep the orc tribes at bay.
Effects of the Blood Plains
Evil and corruption pervades the Blood Plains, and nobody has ever survived a trek to the innermost depths of the accursed land. What is known is that the deeper one travels into the Blood Plains, the more the evil of the land seeks to crush the life out of all that enter. Not even the orcs dare to go too far into the wilderness.
The Borderlands of the Blood Plains
The outermost reaches of the Blood Plains have the weakest taint of evil, and are the preferred lairs of the weaker denizens of the Blood Plains (such as the orcs). While there are no exact measurements, the area referred to as the Borderlands stretch from the border of the Blood Plains inward between 20 and 50 miles. The following dangers apply while traveling in the Borderlands:
- Bloodgrass – A weed known as Bloodgrass grows everywhere in the borderlands of the Blood Plains. The plant is crimson, and has an iron-like scent reminiscent of blood. The weed is exceptionally hard to kill, even with magic, and it is all that druids and other protectors of nature can do to contain the blights of these weeds within the Blood Plains and to keep them from spreading into civilized lands. In addition to the unpleasant smell, the inner juice of the weed is an irritant to the flesh of most mortals. Creatures without at least a point of natural armor that come into contact with the internal juices of the plant receive burn-like welts upon their exposed flesh. This causes a point of acid damage per exposure and the exposed creature must make a Fortitude save (DC 18) or also suffer the Sickened condition for an hour after exposure. The orcs of the Blood Plains have adapted to the weed’s juices and have been known to collect Bloodgrass to coat their weapons and instruments of torture.
The most disturbing feature of Bloodgrass, however, is the weed’s reaction to blood. It seems to thrive on the nourishment provided by the blood of living creatures. While the grass is usually not a hindrance, that changes if a creature is “bloodied” (at 50% hit points or below) or suffering from a Bleed effect. The Bloodgrass writhes and stretches when it senses exposed blood, wrapping around the legs of wounded creatures and impeding their progress. Any creature in an area of Bloodgrass when he reaches the “bloody” level of hit points or is afflicted with a Bleed condition immediately gainst the Entangled condition by the Blood Grass at the end of the round (no save). The Bloodgrass persists in its desperate and hungry embrace until a creature moves out of the Bloodgrass or until the creature is no longer bloodied or suffering from the Bleed condition.
It is unknown how the Bloodrunners can eat Bloodgrass without injury, or how they manage to evade the grip of Bloodgrass when they are injured or bloodied.
For the purposes of certain spells and effects, Bloodgrass is considered to be a magically-altered plant (making it more difficult to control and avoid by druids, rangers, and similar characters).
- Unhallowed Ground – Perhaps the most dangerous feature of the Blood Plains themselves is the unholy energy that it seems to be infused with. The DC to resist negative energy (from channeling and spells) gains a +4 profane bonus. The DC to resist positive energy is reduced by 4. All evil-aligned creatures within the Borderlands receive a +2 deflection bonus to AC and a +2 resistance bonus to saves against good-aligned opponents. Good-aligned summoned creatures cannot make bodily contact with evil creatures of the Blood Plains. If they do make bodily contact with an evil creature, the summoned good creature is immediately dismissed.
All undead within the borderlands of the Blood Plains receive a +1 profane bonus on all attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws. Undead created within the Borderlands gain a bonus hit point per hit die.
Anyone that casts animate dead within the borderlands of the Blood Plains creates up to double the amount of undead as normal (4 HD per caster level rather than 2 HD).
Any creature that dies on the borderlands of the Blood Plains has a 50% chance of spawning as an undead creature of an appropriate type (as determined by the GM) each week . If the body remains intact at the time of spawning, it will spawn as a corporeal undead. If the body was destroyed, eaten, or otherwise rendered incapable of physical movement, it will spawn as an incorporeal undead. A burial blessing of a cleric of Romd can delay the onset of becoming an undead. Likewise, removing the body from the Blood Plains before it animates as an undead will prevent the body from animating. Dead bodies brought into the Blood Plains have a chance of animating as if they were slain in the Blood Plains, but may only animate as physical undead in most cases.
- Corrupted Water – There are many bogs and marshes, as well as some lakes and rivers in the thousands of miles of borderlands. The water in all of these locations has a red tint and smells vaguely of sulfur. The creatures of the Blood Plains have adapted to drinking it (though even orcs agree that it tastes terrible). Any other creature that drinks the water of the Blood Plains must make a Fortitude save (DC 20) or gain the Nauseated condition for an hour. There is also a 50% chance of contracting a disease when drinking the water of the borderlands of the Blood Plains.
Furthermore, all natural water sources (marshes, bogs, lakes, rivers, etc) are also considered to be unholy water, making them deadly to aeldri and other good-aligned outsiders.
Water brought in from an outside source (such as a waterskin) will putrefy and become corrupted after a week of exposure to the Blood Plains. Likewise, water created by the create water is safe to drink in the borderlands of the Blood Plains, assuming that it is kept from mixing with the corrupted water of the borderlands.
- Cold – The temperatures in the Blood Plains are colder than the surrounding lands. In the late spring, summer, and early fall, the Blood Plains are considered temperate, though temperatures are often at least 10 degrees below surrounding territories. In the winter, the Blood Plains are plunged into terrible dark winters closer to those experienced by the winterlands in the north than by the neighbors of the borderlands. While it is never a good idea to travel into the borderlands of the Blood Plains, it is considered suicide to wander into the borderlands of the Blood Plains in the winter.
The Outlands of the Blood Plains
While the borderlands of the Blood Plains are truly terrible, they are nothing compared to the horrors and corruption found within the Outlands of the Blood Plains. Truly dark and terrible creatures roam these expanses, preying on each other and anything else they can catch. Powerful undead, demons, black dragons, and dyriskilssi ruins are notable occupants of these territories, in addition to other things best left to the imagination.