Geography

Major Geographical Areas

The Weird West is composed of six major distinct areas. Starting from the east to west, these regions are the frontier, the dry lands, the canyons, the wastes, the mountains, and the coast.

The Frontier
The portion of the Weird West inhabited by the civilized races is collectively known as the Frontier. The Frontier consists of the easternmost areas of the Dry Lands, wherever the frontier races have established a significant foothold. As a general rule, this includes any area within one day’s travel of the railroad. Larger towns are established along the railroad itself, with a station at each. Smaller towns may exist farther into the wilds.

The Frontier resembles the dry lands, but with slightly more rainfall, and thus more lakes, rivers, and vegetation. Trees and crops grow more easily here, and ground water is more easily tapped – a necessity for a progressive town.

The Dry Lands
The Dry Lands are a steppe region – semi-arid and mostly flatland. The main vegetation here are the dry grasses and root plants. Some trees do grow here, such as Joshua Trees and Windbreaker Trees, but they are mostly found around the lakes and rivers of the Dry Lands.

The Dry Lands are home to the Lizardfolk. On the border with the frontier, there is little geographical difference between the two. The most significant difference is the larger growth of trees, bushes, and other vegetation in the frontier. This is the wettest region east of the mountains. Rain, when it comes, often falls in thunderstorms which can lead to flash flooding.

The Canyons
The Canyons are a rocky hamada-type desert, with rolling rolling rock formations, deep cut-canyons, and high plateaus. There is little sand here.

Several different native races make homes here – the Raptorans on the buttes, Dusklings hiding in the canyons, far-ranging Lizardfolk, and even the occasional band of Asherati.

The Wastes
The Wastes are a vast sandy desert formed by the rain shadow cast by the mountains. It receives the least rainfall of any region in the Weird West. The landscape is composed of sandy ergs and dunes, interspersed with rocky outcroppings.

Asherati are most comfortable here, better able to cope with the sand and heat than other races. They life in rock caverns called sietches, which are buried under the dunes. Most of their water comes from dewcatchers that collect moisture from the air at dawn, underground water pockets, and water harvested from plants and animals.

The Mountains
The Mountains are comparatively lush and verdant in light of the arid lands to the east. The eastern slopes are still somewhat arid, falling into the mountain’s own rain shadow, but the western slopes are very fertile. Many trees grow here, some deciduous but mostly evergreen, as well as mosses, bushes, shrubs, flowers, roots, and more. Water here is not a scarce resource. Higher up on the slopes vegetation diminishes, and the peaks are mostly bare rock.

The Coast
On the western side of the mountains lies the sea shore inhabited by the darfellan. In contrast to the eastern side, this is a wet, lush land where it rains regularly. Food, both plant and animal, is plentiful here. It is a green, rolling landscape.

The Sea and Islands
Finally, one reaches the sea. There are islands of various sizes, including an archipelago, some of which are inhabited on a permanent or nomadic basis by the darfellan.

Minor Geographical Features and Points of Interest

Buttes
These tall rock formations, climbing hundreds of feet into the air, are where most raptorans choose to make their homes. Here they are well protected from the dangers of non-flying races, as the buttes make for a hard climb.

Glass Lakes
Glass lakes are areas where some magical or psionic event has taken place within the Wastes, melting and fusing the sand into a glass-like surface. These surfaces may exist in any translucent colour. They have no known special properties, merely oddities of the Wastes, though there are some who believe that magical and psionic energy in enhanced here.

Horseshoe River
The Horseshoe River runs through the canyons, one of the best sources of water in this area. It runs down from the mountains, and loops around the canyons, finally ending in a small lake.

Oases
Oases are scattered about the desert in locations where an underground spring breaks through the surface, providing water for the surrounding vegetation. Oases attract animals and travellers of all sorts. Those who know the location of these oases often travel through the desert by moving from one to another, giving them a much better chance of survival, though travel may take much longer as they zig-zag from one oasis to the next. The location of an oasis is a jealously-guarded secret among tribes. The asherati have a legend about a huge oasis hidden in the Wastes that they call Nirvana.

Oases are often home to fey creatures such as nymphs, dryads, and sprites.

Psychic Spice
The psychic spice is a material extracted from deposits in the sand of the Wastes, and refined by the Asherati into an edible form that can be added to food or drink, or ingested wholesale. In the refining process, it is infused with a particular psychic power. This spice is a psionic equivalent of magic potions.

Sailing Stones
Within some of the canyons of the Weird West exist a strange phenomenon: stones that move, independent of outside influence. They “sail” slowly across the ground, not caused by gravity (they sail on level ground as well, and even sometimes upslope), wind (they move even when there is no breeze), or observable mover. They are a point of great curiosity to most of the races of the Weird West, and members of all races sometimes make pilgrammages to watch them sail. The strange movement of these stones has given rise to many legends surrounding them, including:
They grant wishes.
They can increase your magical or psionic abilities.
They indicate water running underneath the ground.
They move towards gold or other treasures.
They are infused with the power of the gods or demons.
They are tracing a map or message in the earth.
Interfering with the movement of these stones is often met with shock from the native races, and many will attack anyone who does so, believing the stones to be sacred.

Salt Flats
The salt flats are a set of basins from which rainwater evaporates quickly in the heat, leaving behind salt and other minerals present in the water. These pans of minerals can be hazardous for several reasons. First, they can conceal sinkholes which can be uncovered if stepped on. Secondly, the minerals in the pans can be poisonous to consume, and the salt must be extracted carefully by skilled hands. Finally, they are an attraction for certain monsters that crave the taste of the salt.

Spire
Spire is the tallest butte in the Weird West, home to the largest community of Raptorans. Very few non-raptorans have ever visited the peak. Air spells here function at 150%, while earth spells function at only 50%. It is also an important Incarnum site, and ancestor visions here are particularly common and potent. Raptoran ghosts are an additional defense here against any who would attempt to invade, difficult though it might be.

Talon’s Gap
The Gap is the deepest, widest canyon in all the Weird West. Named by the dusklings as a warning of how vulnerable you are to attacks from above, mainly from the Raptorans. A small river runs through the Gap, which becomes the Horseshoe River further downstream.

Towns

Colton
Colton is the second last stop on the railway, so named because it sits near a substantial coal mine. Colton is important to the economy of the frontier, since it drives the steam engines. Most of the coal mining is of course done by the forged. Other races set up stores, barber shops, forges, stills, and whatever else a populace needs. There is a saloon or two, a café, a farrier, a weaponer, some hedge mages, and so on. Colton also boasts an unusually high number of recreational activities – some more shady than others.

Roundel
Roundel is named after the train roundhouse around which this town revolves. It is the largest town in the frontier, and a hive of activity. Anything you could want can be found here, but the Sheriff keeps a much tighter leash than does the one in Colton. This town is wealthier than any other in the frontier, and much cleaner. The aristocracy here holds more power than anywhere else. Roundel contains some small mines of more precious materials.

Last Chance
Last Chance is the very last major town along the railway. Home to Spade's Casino, it boasts a strong population, second only to Roundel. It is so popular, in fact, that chips from Spade's Casino are used as a standard currency among the frontiersmen, and even some of the native races are adopting it.

It is also one of the more dangerous mainline settlements, being far from the centre of authority. While the town has all the basic legitimate businesses, it is also home to more shady dealings. In addition to the casino, brothels and opium dens are popular recreational spots, and many darker elements lie in the background.

Greyville
Greyville was a settlement expected to flourish with riches. It was founded by a prospector who discovered many rich veins of mineral, gem, and precious metal deposits in the hills nearby. It held promise of being a thriving town. However, some months after it became established, the townfolk began to have strange experiences. They began small – objects were not found where they were left, buckets of water tipped over on their own, horses became unhitched – but grew in number and danger. At first they were blamed on thieves, mischievous children, or even faeries. Others suspected the natives of slipping into town to express their displeasure in odd ways. But as they became more hostile, the townfolk began to suspect that the town was haunted.

Folks were pushed off of ladders, guns backfired and were later found to have been tampered with, horses became startled and threw their riders or crashed their carts, and finally some children went missing during the night. No tracks could be found, no evidence of their disappearance, nothing. The townspeople began to see things… things that weren’t really there. Bodies, faces, strange figures up to nefarious deeds.

For most of the townfolk, that was enough. They packed up and moved back to one of the major settlements. A few stayed on, now struggling to make a living and trying to figure out what had gone wrong in the town. They have not been heard from in months. People now avoid this town like the plague. Houses are boarded up or left standing open, filled with dust and sand pulled in by the wind.

Smaller Settlements
Several smaller towns have popped up in the frontier, off the rail line and branching farther west. These towns can range in size from homesteads of only a few families to a couple hundred people. They are normally named after their founders or a major landmark (some are not even named at all), and have little to offer travelers in the way of services beyond maybe a general store. However most of the residents are friendly enough to offer a spot for travelers to sleep in the barn or on the floor, and maybe a bit of breakfast, as long as those travelers don’t mind lending a hand in the fields. These smaller settlements are quiet, usually peaceful places, and have no formal law enforcement.

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