Thursday, August 2, 2012

Terrain - Tone Forest

  Not many people know the origin of the tone forests. The legends tell of a network of colossal piped instruments that echoed lengthy, low passages to each other. It would make sense if this were a system of communication--after all, the cities in this region are far apart and separated by flat lowlands where cover is hard to find. It’s never been very safe to send riders back and forth.

  Some recent study of the tone forests has revealed a less purposeful, though not mundane, origin. In 3706, while visiting one of the local tone forests on a family vacation, Grix Belbenor, a mine inspector and amateur geologist, noticed a particular phenomenon in the terrain--the towns here have been built on basalt deposits from ancient volcanic activity. After consulting the lore scrolls, he found that there did exist “leagues and leagues of crystalwood forests that were burned to the ground by an flume of earthen fire. This was before the world-time was written.”

  Should Belbenor’s theory prove correct, it seems that a series of prehistoric eruptions sent cascades of lava across the lowlands, burying the crystalwood trees at the roots. As the trunks shattered, the crystalwood shards came to rest on the pyroclastic flats. When disturbed by the occasional traveler, the crystalwood collides with basalt to make tones of different pitches. According to one local wagon driver, the effect is “not unlike throwing a cartload of windchimes down the castle stairs.”

  Tone forest appears as black basalt flats covered by thin, hollow, light purplish-blue crystals. Except for the chiming tones of crystals being knocked against the basalt, tone forests are otherwise soundless since no plants can grow on the flats and the crystals are easily broken and razor sharp, thus making traversal exceedingly difficult. Across the flats, there are also tall formations of basalt that provide sights for ambush. Traveling across a tone forest makes any traveler’s movement audible for 50 yards unless the character succeeds a difficult dexterity check.

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