Gloomwood Backswamps

The half-flooded wilderness around Balefire City is pitch dark, bitter cold, and utterly unforgiving.

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Gloomwood Composing a region-wide weak point between this world and the Ethereal Plane, the greater Gloomwood swampland is known as the [b]backswamps [/b] by the hard-bitten locals. This tangle of rivers and lakes struggles to remain liquid in the year-round cold. Like Balefire itself, the sun never rises in the backswamps. Without sunlight, climate ranges from chilly in the summer to life-threateningly frigid in the winter. Out here, light and warmth are essential to survival.

Mud, ice and twisted rock dominate the landscape. The few roads actively maintained by the Balefire Dominion tend to be narrow and quickly overgrown. Travel by water is much more common. River barges and other watercraft are a frequent sight in the swamp's many waterways, although care must be taken to break ice during most parts of the year. Local flora, called darkplants, are pitch black in order to absorb what little scraps of light they can. Despite the harsh terrain and oppressive environmental conditions, Gloomwood contains a huge variety of species -- sapient and bestial alike -- that are adapted to this alien area. Bioluminescence is common in all parts of the food web. Even mundane species have adapted because of the magical interplay between the material and Ethereal.

Extraplanar anomalies are very common. Those who live in Gloomwood must coexist with [b]senka [/b], lifeforms native to the Ethereal Plane (known as the Shadow Plane by many locals). Bestial senka perform roles in the ecosystem if they manage to cross into this plane, and sapient senka have established trade relationships with local settlements.

Backswamp culture is different from the city. Locals tend to value rugged individualism, self-sufficiency and stubborn resilience. A sense of warfare against nature -- the ability to tame such a wild and dangerous landscape -- contributes to their rural pride. Additional cultural traits stem from the local industries of mining, livestock raising, and the construction of scorchlines.
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