I’ve been watching Planet Eath II on BBC America with Present Wife recently, so I’m inspired to delve into my alternate universe a bit more.
On tonight’s episode… Mountains! What life could survive in some of the most rugged and extreme conditions of Úr’Dan?
Okay, I’ll drop the David Attenborough act, tempting though it is.
The Hundred Teeth
As I discussed in my brief overview of Úr’Dan a few weeks ago, the subcontinent of Úr’Dan is separated along its northern border from a much larger landmass by the Hundred Teeth mountain range.
The Hundred Teeth stretch from coast to coast, creating an imposing barrier to almost anything trying to get into or out of Úr’Dan.
In fact, only once in recorded history has a group of people traversed the Hundred Teeth. The Great Migration of peoples into Úr’Dan came through the Altpass, a single passage between the mountains from the wastelands to the north. What lies beyond the wastelands is a matter of legend.
South of the western ridges of the Hundred Teeth lies Everfeld, the great coniferous forest and setting for The Warden of Everfeld: Memento. Everfeld blankets the rockier foothills of the mountains until the rolling plains of the Uplands open up. Two great rivers, the Everwash and Deepfeld Rush flow through Everfeld into the Uplands.
The eastern region of the Hundred Teeth, beyond the Altpass, actually forms a high elevation valley called Naebvael, known for its persistent cloud cover and the milky colored Cloudwash river that spills out of it.
A smaller ridge of the Hundred Teeth spurs southward along the eastern coast of Úr’Dan. These are the Storm Breakers, so named for the terrible hurricanes that batter the eastern coast of the continent. Fortunately, these mountains act as a shield for those living on the mainland. Three tributaries of the Rainflow flow out of the Storm Breakers, and these Rainflow Valleys are known for… can you guess? Heavy rain.
From the western highlands of the Uplands flow the twin Springfield Rivers through a lush expanse of meadows and highly fertile soil, which provide a bouquet of vegetation not seen anywhere else on the great plains.
So, the Deepfeld Rush, Everwash, Cloudwash, three Rainflow tributaries, and the Springfield Rivers all flow out of the Hundred Teeth and into the Uplands. These five river valleys support a vast majority of the societies living in northern Úr’Dan, and are the primary modes of travel and trade throughout.
While these waterways irrigate the soil and provide fertile land for agriculture, there are still huge swaths of the Uplands without immediate access to these vital water sources. The higher, rockier hills of the northern Uplands, a spur of land between the Everwash and Cloudwash sustain little more than goat herds who can digest the tough grasses that grow there.
The windswept highlands of the western Uplands are often barren of trees, so tall grasses and thickets of bramble and weeds thrive instead, allowing for great herds of boar and antelope.
Meanwhile, the monsoon-like Rainflow valleys in the east suffer from sodden ground, where herds of cattle thousands strong graze on the lush grass.
Biodiversity = People Diversity
This biodiversity provides for an equally diverse array of societies in the northern half of Úr’Dan. Although the Uplands are well contained within the Hundred Teeth to the north and the Barger’s Marsh to the south, the peoples living there connect with each other mostly through trade.
It is not until a wave of newcomers arrives that the peoples of northern Úr’Dan are truly forced to contend with each other for resources — at times violently.