The Great Savannah

General

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The Great Savannah

The term Great Savannah is technically only used for the actual savannahs and grasslands of the northern subtropical zone, however, the subtropical forests at its northern and southern edges are described on this page as well. After all, all these ecosystems belong to the northern subtropical zone, a twilight zone between the temperate north and the tropical equator. The regions are all hot and rather dry, too, if not as dry as the Searing Desert. In the south, the aforementioned forests mark the border to the Starless Jungle. The edge between the rainforest and Great Savannah is rather fuzzy; it's not perfectly clear where one begins and the other ends. Same applies to the northern forests, which separate the Great Savannah from the Forest Lands. West of the Great Savannah lie the Endless Waves; east of it lies the Eternal Sea.

Many animals have made the wide, grassy plains and subtropical forests of this region their home. However, despite the good hunting grounds, not many people live in the wild, vast grasslands. Only the northern subtropical forests harbor cities and towns, owned by the Gren Kingdom and the Sokan Empire. The former even has a few communities in the Ironhead Flatlands, while the latter is currently in the process of founding a colonies at the eastern shores of the Great Savannah. The southern forests are at most inhabited by Riz tribes and a few Wolshak packs. Said packs also inhabited the grasslands and savannahs in between the northern and southern subtropical forests. No one else dares to live on these vast, dangerous lands. Only the Wolshaks are adapted to this environment, naturally equipped to handle it. Apart from the various humanoid factions, there's also the Aezkul, who have created colonies in the various mountain ranges. They do not lay claim to the whole region, but they can be seen hunting and exploring in it.

Geography

The Great Savannah consists mostly of flat land, but it does feature some mountain ranges, even a few rather massive ones. There are the Western Mountains, which separate the a desert called Deadlands from the rest of the Great Savannah, and there's the northern half of the Divine Spikes, which is located in the southeastern half of it. Between these two mountain ranges lie the mostly flat plains of this region. They're only disturbed by the rare low mountain ranges, the Fire Mountain, clusters of hills, and the various rivers that flow through them.

Only a few large rivers exist in the Great Savannah, most aren't really noteworthy. They mostly spring from the Divine Spikes, because the Western Mountains are rather arid and don't see a lot of rainfall. Despite their small size, the rivers ensure that there's enough water for the various animals that inhabit this area. There's lakes as well, but none of them are so huge that they are particularly interesting. Most are rather small, more pond than lake. Some are even temporary in nature, created by the occasional rainfall and bond to dry out during dryer months. This is a more common occurrence in the western half, because the rain is more dependent on the seasons there.

Climate

The entire Great Savannah has a arid to humid subtropical climate. It's very hot here, almost as hot as it is in the Searing Desert. If it weren't for the higher humidity, the Great Savannah would be a desert, too. While it's hot during the day, temperatures become moderate to cold at night. Freezing temperatures are rarely encountered, at least during summer. Winter can cause the temperature to drop low enough for frost and even snow to occur. This only happens in the most northern regions of the Great Savannah; the rest only becomes slightly cooler during winter or isn't affected at all.

Seasons also affect how high the humidity is. During summer, the most southern regions are affected by winds coming from the southwest and going to the northeast. They blow the clous from the rainforest further northward and hence bring humidity with them. As a result, the humidity in the southern regions higher during summer. The northern areas are always affected by the winds coming from the northwest, which blow across the Eternal Sea and bring a lot of humidity and thus rain with them. This is true year round. The very center of the Great Savannah doesn't gain a lot of rain from either wind, because both blow across large swaths of land before reaching it. As a result, the center is much drier. Some parts of it can be considered a desert. The land west of the Western Mountains is a full desert and appropriately called the Deadlands.

Flora and Fauna

While the Starless Jungle has the highest variety of species, the Great Savannah and its surrounding regions the greatest variety of ecosystems. There's the subtropical forests in the north and in the south, the savannahs and shrublands that surround the heart of the Great Savannah, and the arid grasslands and almost-deserts that make up its core. As mentioned before, there's also the proper desert, the Deadlands, west of the Western Mountains.

There's creatures that can be found across all of these regions. Such are small mammals, reptiles, various avians, giant insects, and various types of kul. Mazkul and River Azkul can be found wherever there are large enough bodies of water and prey, and Sozkul colonies inhabit the western shores, even those of the Deadlands. Trezkul, thanks to their ability to soar for hours upon hours, can be found across the entire region as well. They're the apex predator of the area, rivaled only by Aezkul from colonies in the mountains and the various other pockets of civilization.

In the south, the border between the Starless Jungle, a rainforest, and the Great Savannah is marked by a region that is densely forested but not nearly as densely as the rainforest. At the southern edge of the subtropical forests, the trees are evergreen and have large leaves. The humidity and temperatures are high, so the trees there don't differ all that much from those further south in the rainforest. The further north one moves, the more are these trees replaced by evergreen sclerophyllous trees. Also, the density of trees decreases towards the center of the Great Savannah as they are increasingly replaced by tall grasses, shrubs, and bushes. An interesting trait of the southern forests is, that they see more rain during summer and hence turn greener during that period. Flowers bloom, grasses grow several inches taller in a matter of weeks; the vegetation thrives. It becomes thick and beautiful.

The animals that live within these woods are small to medium in size, for the most part. Avians and insects are extremely common and varied here, because many species that inhabit the rainforests further south have managed to make themselves at home in the southern subtropical forests as well. However, their presence becomes less the further north one looks. Even Rizkul can be found here, but only individual scouts that strayed too far north. Usually Rizkul avoid the subtropical forests; they feel uncomfortable and unsafe without the large, shade-granting trees of the Starless Jungle. Trezkul can't be found here in large amounts either. They prefer to stick to the vast, open lands further north, leaving the forests in the hands of smaller predators.

The northern subtropical forest differs a lot from the southern one, because it has its origins in the northern temperate forests. Right at the border to the forest lands, most of the plants have large leafs as the humidity is high and they don't have the need to save up water. The further south one goes, the fewer of those plants are present and the more numerous evergreen sclerophyllous plants become. Near the southern edge, the trees don't differ all that much from those in the southern woods. Naturally, the density of trees decreases further south as well, as they are replaced by shrubs and grasses.

Within these forests, the largest creatures are Trezkul and stray ironheads. The large, green kul are rather common in this area. They hunt and live here, just like they do in the Forestlands north and in the shrub- and grasslands south of here. Rizkul can't be found here at all; the grasslands act as a natural barrier for the tall-trees-loving kul. Instead other kul can be found here, like Sozkul at the shores and Mazkul and River Azkul in the rivers.

Onward to the actual savannahs. Despite being split in half by the arid grasslands located between them, the flora and fauna of both regions are rather similar. The flora evolved in similar ways and most creatures have managed to cross aforementioned grasslands at some point in history. As typical for savannahs, the flora consists of bushes, flowers, grasses, and the occasional tree. The humidity simply isn't high enough to allow for the growth of dense forests. Overall, the land is open and vast.

The plenitude of space and edible greenery has encouraged the evolution of herbivorous megafauna, which in turn benefit the evolution of predators that can hunt said megafauna. Safety lies in numbers, so to protect themselves many herbivores have adopted the survival tactic of forming large herds. Ironheads are one of those herbivores. Huge herds, numbering easily multiple hundreds of the large animals, wander across the savannahs and grasslands. Trezkul, packs of avogs, and other predators prey on those that stray too far from the herd. Naturally there's also other herbivores that roam this habitat, like reptilian antelopes and daebis. The flightless birds can be seen running across the plains, avoiding predators or chasing the giant insects.

Now to the aforementioned grasslands. They don't differ that much from the savannahs. The primary difference is the utter lack of trees and the scarcity of dense shrubbery. There's only grass and its density and height depends on the area's humidity. The vegetation is thicker near the edges of the grassland, is also accompanied by more shrubs and bushes there, and is thinner near its arid core. The very center is so arid that some patches of land are almost devoid of vegetation and hence also only populated by small creatures that require little to remain alive and well. The more humid regions are also visited by smaller herds and packs; the thick grass attracts herbivores, which in turn attract predators. Overall, the wildlife here is pretty much the same as in the shrublands and savannahs, differing only in the numbers the animals are present in.

The last area on this list and the least hospitable of all those mentioned are the Deadlands. It's an extremely arid area, worse than some regions in the Searing Desert. The Western Mountains keep any clouds coming from the east away, while cold water currents coming from the north prevent that many clouds form above the Endless Waves just west of it. Only the shores are somewhat green, covered in shrub and grass. Further inland, the proper desert begins. It's sandy, only features cacti and similar plants, if any. Mostly small critters live here; large beasts simply don't find enough to eat or drink, unless they find one of the few rivers that flow through the land. The only members of the kul family here are Sozkul and a few Mazkul. The former inhabit the shores in large colonies, not bothered by having little prey available on land because they can simply fish in the sea. The latter are few in numbers due to aforementioned low amount of prey.

Natural Resources

Obviously hunting is amazing in the Great Savannah, except in the Deadlands and the most arid grasslands. The best places to hunt are the savannahs and the densely overgrown grasslands. There's basically no cover for large animals, hunters will be able to spot their prey from miles away. The only trouble is slaying the prey that often is so large that it's dangerous on its own, despite not being a predator, or that lives in large herds that defend their members if need be. Some animals are also simply too fast for humanoid hunters to catch, like antelopes and daebis. Fishing is also rather rewarding, both in the various inland waters and at the shores. There's also plenty of wild growing herbs and edible fruits that can be found in the Great Savannah's lands; it is possible to survive off of foraging. Some of the herbs have medical properties; they're often relatives of those that grow in the Starless Jungle. Others have recreational uses or may be used as spices. Hunters, fishers, and gatherers do have to be careful. Predators, both on land and in the water, make their professions rather dangerous. This makes exploiting the region's bounties risky and less appealing.

Most of the not-so-arid lands of the Great Savannah are very fertile, making them suitable for agriculture. However, this is barely exploited, because so few pockets of agricultural civilizations live in the region. Only the Gren villages and Sokan colonies create fields, pastures, and orchards. What does make the region rather special are the Ironhead Flatlands. It is here that the Gren learned how to tame and breed the large herbivores and how to turn them into beasts of burden and even war mounts. Yet most of the ironhead breeding happens further north, in the center of the kingdom. Another species of the Great Savannah that was domesticated are the avogs. The Sokans accomplished this and most of their breeding facilities are still located in the Plains of Trees, close to the shore and the southern end of Threa's Spine.

Building can be a difficult task in most of the Great Savannah because of a lack of wood. Of course this isn't an issue in the subtropical forests, but in the grasslands houses can only be build out of dirt, clay, stones, and bones. These resources are at least available in large amounts in all regions. The wood that one can gather in the various forests and savannahs is sturdy and suitable for building, but not extraordinarily so. It's also adapted to dry climates and won't perform well in regions with high humidity for that reason. Stone is most easily gathered in the various mountain ranges and the few hilly areas. Granite, sandstone, and limestone are the most common. Basalt and obsidian can be found around the Fire Mountain, a volcano in the southern lands.

The region is poor in ores and coal. At least surface nodes are still available, because no civilization has exploited them yet. Most common are lead, tin, and iron. Those three can be found primarily in the Western Mountains. Then Gren Kingdom has a few lead mines in their most northern part. The various other metals, like copper and silver, can be found scattered in hills. Gold can be found in the northern parts of the Divine Spikes, but so far no one has dug it up yet.

Known Locations

Most of the Great Savannah is wild and untamed, traces of civilization are rare. Hence the grand majority of interesting places are natural. There's no ruins of fallen realms, not abandoned wonder. Not on the flat land anyway; there are traces of the expansion of the Wind Kingdoms of the Aezkul in the mountains. Abandoned outposts and homes, decorated with engravings and furnished with stone seats and shelves. Some of these old, forgotten places have been reclaimed, most are still empty. A few of them might contain treasures of old, or might have simply become the home of a Trezkul and its brood.

As mentioned, traces of civilization are rare. There's a few growing colonies at the eastern shores, created and governed by the Sokan Empire, as well as a few towns and villages in the Ironhead Flatlands and the lands north of them, inhabited by the Gren. In rest of the region one will only find Wolshak packs and their simple huts. The true beauty of the Great Savannah doesn't lie in what deft hands have created or strong claws have carved, but in what nature's forces formed over time. Waterfalls, canyons, vast expanses covered in blooming flowers of various colors, such and more are the sights one can find here.

Natural Locations
Fire Mountain

The Fire Mountain is a singular huge volcano located in the southern tropical forests. It's accompanied by a small volcanic mountain range. What makes place special is that it's a very active volcano in an otherwise mostly flat land, vast land. Its body towers over the surrounding land. The peak is black, made out of volcanic rock, covered in ash and soot, but the slopes are green, covered in shrubs, grasses, and a few trees. Without the vegetation they would be black as well.

The volcano has been named by Rizlin who saw it erupt from far away. No Riz tribe lives nearby, because the rainforest doesn't extend that far. Wolshak packs do live in the general area, if only a few. They simply don't care about the mountain, or the ores hidden in its rocky flesh. At most they use the minerals and rocks it offers to make tools or for ritualistic purposes. The fact that no civilized species bothers to pacify the area makes the Fire Mountain a perfect place for various animals and Trezkul. They live in the various crags and holes, create hidden nests.

Deadlands

The Deadlands are a subtropical desert and can be found just west of the northern half of the Western Mountains. It's hot, it's arid, and it's mostly covered in sand. Little to no vegetation grows here. Only at the banks of the few rivers that flow between the dunes and rock formations can plants live and spread. These areas are also the most inhabited ones. The rest of the Deadlands are simply rather dead, at most inhabited by odd little critters that have developed various strategies to make due with little to no water and food. All in all, the Deadlands are barren, mostly devoid of life, and no one inhabits them either. They certainly deserve their name.

Divine Spikes

The Divine Spikes are a ridge of mountains that spans from the Starless Jungle all the way into the core of the Great Savannah. The two regions share the mountain range, but not evenly. Roughly two-thirds of it lie in the Great Savannah, the rest lies in the Starless Jungle. It has been created by the collision of the plate of the Secret Sanctuary and the rest of the north, so by the folding of land and the eruption of volcanoes. Two ores that can be commonly found in the Divine Spires are iron and gold. The former can be primarily found in the southern reaches, the latter in the very, very north.

The mountains are massive and there's valleys and canyons in between them. In the south, these valleys are filled with rainforests, in the north they covered in subtropical forests and even further north in grasslands. The Divine Spikes see a lot of rain coming from the nearby ocean, so they're more humid than the lands west of them, which they grant rain shadow. Overall, the Divine Spires are rather lively, offering countless homes to various Riz tribes, Wolshak packs, and of course thousands of beasts, both large and small.

Nearby Riz tribes named the mountains; they they are the spikes jutting out of the back of a creature that's sleeping deep beneath the surface. One day that beast will awaken and bring destruction to the land, unless the Rizlin worship it, feed it, keep it sated and sleepy. They sacrifice meat to it, even people, by throwing them into volcanoes or cracks in the stone. Yet the volcanoes still erupt, which obviously means the destroyer of worlds craves more!

There was once instance in history, more than a thousand years ago, when multiple volcanoes erupted. The ground trembled, rainforest was burnt away by freely flowing lava, and debris rained down as fiery death. Most tribes saw this as a reason to sacrifice more. Some even began sacrificing each other, thinking that only the blood and flesh of Rizlin will pacify it. Another tribe, a singular one, believed there was no way to calm the beast down. The tremors were so terrible, the fires so hungry; the tribe had to leave and find a safer world. The decision was sealed when their Rizkul matriarch was smashed by a piece of volcanic hurled at her by another eruption. Clearly, all deities had abandoned and forgotten them.

The shaman, assisted by a new matriarch, led his people northward. This is the only known time that Rizlin and -kul as they're known nowadays have left the Starless Jungle. Having no idea how to properly navigate while on long journeys, they simply followed the shore of the Eternal Bay, keeping it on their right. First they entered the subtropical forests of the Great Savannah. Their journey took a great toll on them. They weren't used to the land; predators and Wolshaks attacked them. Naturally the Rizkul did their best to defend their matriarch and her subjects, but they took losses. Trezkul were the worst. Acid scared them off usually, but some were daring, struck those who strayed too far from the group or picked them off from the skies. More and more Rizkul died on the tribe's march until they finally reached the Forest Lands.

A terrible incident took place there. The group was attacked by a pack of Wolshaks; the furred savages wanted to slay the unusual kul, turn them into trophies! They succeeded. They killed off the last Rizkul, even the matriarch. The Rizlin were put in such distress that they fled the fight, leaving the last few fighting males Rizkul behind. Heading westward, they left the coast. Without any clue where they were going, they just went northward, orienting themselves with the help of the sun.

Hunger set in. Without the Rizkul hunting was much more difficult and the Rizlin couldn't forage as much in the Forest Lands as they could in the Starless Jungle. Then one fateful day they were attacked by a Trezkul. Instead of fighting it, the hungry Rizlin threw themselves into the dirt and prayed. They pleaded that this mighty creature, whose kin has managed to kill Rizkul before, allowed them to remain alive. Of course the Trezkul didn't understand a word, but lucky for the Rizlin this was one of the smarter Trezkul. He understood that the Rizlin submit to him instead of fight him like Wolshaks or Trezlin would. He made them his servants and the Rizlin settled down. The community grew, mingled with Trezlin. This is how the Drivek and the followers of Yggrax came to be.

Ironhead Flatlands

The Ironhead Flatlands are a vast plain located in the northwestern quadrant of the Great Savannah. It's a subtropical savannah that extends from the Western Mountains to the Plains of Trees. Due to being so near to the northern edge and its proximity to the seas in the west, it's rather humid and not as hot as the regions further south. Overall, the region isn't terribly special. The most impressive thing about it are the large herds of ironheads that roam the region, drinking from the various rivers and eating the tall grass. In fact, this is the region where the Gren first managed to domesticate ironheads. Back then the Gren Kingdom didn't even exist. Speaking of the Gren, they and various Wolshak packs are the only ones who inhabit and claim this region. Multiple villages and small towns of the Dukedoms Thvijom and Vandell have settled down here.

Plains of Trees

The Plains of Trees are simply the northern subtropical forests. They mark the border between the Forest Lands and the Great Savannah. They're mild in winter, hot in summer, but never are they really cold. Hence evergreens grow across the entire region, turning it into a great habitat for various small to medium beasts and a few huge predators. Just like the Ironhead Flatlands, the region isn't very special. Most of it is wild, only Gren and Wolshaks inhabit its west, both do so sparsely, and the Sokans have a few colonies along the eastern shores.

Western Mountains

Obviously the Western Mountains are a mountain range located at the western edge of the Great Savannah. They separate most the entire area from the western shores and are the reason the Deadlands exist, because they grant the regions west of them rain shadow hence their humidity is terribly low. The mountains are far older than those of the Divine Spires and thus rather eroded. They aren't nearly as impressive as the Divine Spires, but that doesn't make them any less useful. Ore, tin, and lead can be found in them. The Gren do exploit these, primarily the lead. Apart from Gren mining communities, only Wolshaks and beasts live in this mountain range. Especially Trezkul love building nests here; the abandoned outposts of the Republic of the Zule are great lairs.