The Geography of Karyst
The Six Lands
The known world of Karyst is divided into six distinct, major lands: Ahkmir, Beslahn, Eldimoor, Karsim, Meinyoch, and Taeryhs. The first five lands make up the continent of Kryos, while Taeryhs constitutes the large island of Taeryhs itself, and the smaller but more numerous Shattered Isles.
Situated far to the south of Kryos, Ahkmir is a characteristically hot and dry land. To the north is the Midnight Sea, a vast sandy desert which separates Ahkmir from Beslahn. The central Stonelands region is home to most of Ahkmir's inhabitants, with major settlements situated on the east and west coasts or within the Kadith and Cedir river plain. South of the Daggerspires are the Jungles of Lyth, a relatively unexplored area of dense jungle and swamp, and the home of the Lythian tribes.
Beslahn is a large, diverse land in the east-central area of Kryos. Numerous kingdoms are scattered across Beslahn, although only a handful can be considered more than mere fiefdoms. To the north lay the Korrok Mountains, while the west is bounded by the Shadewatch Mountains. The Midnight Sea to the south separates Beslahn from Ahkmir. Most of Beslahn enjoys a mild, temperate climate, although the southernmost region is considerably warmer, particularly along the south eastern coast.
Jutting out into the Iron-gale Sea, only a narrow stretch of land connects Eldimoor to the rest of Kryos. At one time the home of several powerful nations, Eldimoor is now a shattered land, dominated by crumbling ruins and barren wastelands. A long, terrible war nearly three hundred years past devastated Eldimoor, unleashing powerful magics which tore apart the land. In a desperate attempt to turn the tides of war, a horde of demons was called forth, but they proved to be the final act of a doomed civilization. Demons and their offspring still haunt the numerous ruins of Eldimoor, while the remnants of Eldimoor's great civilizations huddle in small, fortified settlements.
Karsim constitutes the bulk of western Kryos. The Shadewatch Mountains form the eastern border of Karsim, while to the north are the formidable peaks of Elerak's Teeth. Most of Karsim enjoys a mild, temperate climate, excepting the southernmost region. Dominated by several well-established kingdoms, Karsim has a long history of settlement, leading many to refer to it as the 'civilised lands'. Despite this, large areas remain wild and untamed, particularly within the interior and in the highlands to the north and east. Through its long history, Karsim has seen the rise and fall of many civilisations, their ancient ruins left hidden across the land.
Stretching across the northern part of Kryos, Meinyoch is predominantly a land of wide, cold plains. To the south lay the Korrok Mountains and the peaks of Elerak's Teeth, while to the north are the cold shores of the Whitestone Sea. The central plains are home to numerous nomadic tribes, with settlements in the southern foothills and along the banks of the Saajat and Zedris rivers. Larger settlements are found in the north east, mostly well-fortified city states, but also a handful of proper nations.
The region of Taeryhs incorporates the main island of Taeryhs as well as the Shattered Isles to the south. The waters of three seas surround Taeryhs: the Iron-gale Sea to the north and west, the Glassmirror Sea on the southwest, and the Wyrmling Sea along the southeast. Mordan's Reach separates Taeryhs from Karsim and the mainland. The southern half of the island of Taeryhs possesses a warm, mild climate, while the north is slightly cooler and given to powerful storms coming across the northern seas. In contrast, the Shattered Isles have a sub-tropical and tropical climate, with distinct wet and dry seasons, and near constant year round temperatures. The culture of both Taeryhs and the Shattered Isles is centered on the sea, with most major settlements found along coastal areas.
The Seas and Coastal Waters
The waters of six great seas surround the continent of Kryos and the island region of Taeryhs: the Copper Sea, the Glassmirror Sea, the Iron-gale Sea, the Burnished Sea, the Whitestone Sea, and the Wyrmling Sea. In addition to the great seas, nine major water bodies, and numerous smaller ones, form the coastal waters of the known world.
The Abyssal Straits separate the Mehran Islands from the eastern shores of Beslahn. Dark, cold and forbidding, the Straits are extremely deep, rapidly plunging to great depths just beyond the shoreline. The depths of the Abyssal Straits are home to many large sea creatures, including dragon turtles, giant squid and other fearsome beings. Marine travel is mostly restricted to the near shores, although some sea-going vessels choose to venture further out into the Straits.
Situated off the north-eastern coast of Ahkmir, Bezeir Bay is protected from the open sea by the Shield Islands. For this reason, the waters of the Bay are relatively calm, providing ideal conditions for marine vessels. Fishing vessels are a common sight on the Bay, as are larger trade and naval ships. This in turn has created great opportunities for piracy, who pose a significant threat on the open waters of the Bay.
The deep, dark waters off the eastern shores of Meinyoch and Beslahn are known as the Burnished Sea. Vast and forbidding, the Burnished Sea is a seemingly endless expanse of water that stretches well beyond the known world. The coastal waters of the Burnished Sea are frequently traveled by a large variety of vessels, and are inhabited by numerous different creatures. It is not known how far east the Burnished Sea proper reaches, for it is rarely sailed, and those few who do never return.
The Copper Sea
Beyond the south-eastern shores of Ahkmir lies the Copper Sea, a wide expanse of deep, open water. Named for the rich colour of the water at dawn and dusk, the vast Copper Sea stretches well beyond reach of the known world. Marine travel on the Copper Sea is typically confined to coastal waters, particularly fishing and trade vessels. Some seafarers have ventured further out into the open expanse of the sea, in search of legendary creatures dwelling in the deep waters, isolated islands, and even other lands. Many such adventurers never return, while those that do speak of high seas, gargantuan waves, and narrow-escapes from terrifying sea beasts.
Located in the far north, Dagger Bay is nestled between Eldimoor and Meinyoch, with the Splinter Islands to the north of the bay. Large jagged rocks rising up from the seafloor pierce the shallow waters of the bay, resembling the daggers for which it is named. With few major settlements nearby, Dagger Bay sees little marine traffic other than small fishing vessels. Because of its relative isolation, Locathah and Sahaugin settlements can be found throughout Dagger Bay.
The waters of Darkwatch Bay stretch from the southern coast of Meinyoch to the northern shores of the Dark Coast. Broad and cold, the bay is relatively unprotected from the rough seas of the Burnished Sea to the east. The waters off the coast of Meinyoch are frequented by fisher-folk and trading vessels, including those from southern ports. The shores of the Dark Coast are largely avoided, for fear of catching the attention of the denizens on the near shore.
Beyond the southwestern shores of Taeryhs and the Shattered Isles lies the Glassmirror Sea. Warm and relatively calm, the Glassmirror Sea extends well beyond the bounds of the known world. Named for its clear and generally smooth waters, the waters of the Glassmirror Sea are frequently sailed by fisher-folk and traders, as well as those with less honest intentions. The sea itself is home to countless creatures, including merfolk, Locathah and Sahaugin. Although the coastal regions are heavily traveled, the outer waters are generally avoided; outside of the short stormy season, the Glassmirror Sea is given to long periods of becalmed winds.
Gulf of Last Hope
Located between the eastern shores of Eldimoor and the western shores of Karsim and Meinyoch is the long stretch of the Gulf of Last Hope. Treacherous in their own right, the waters of the gulf are made more dangerous from the threat of raiders out of the Stormhands, particularly in the southern reaches. The coastal waters of Meinyoch are constantly threatened by the Rocs and Hippogriffs who make their home among the peaks of Elerak's Teeth. As a result, most marine vessels stay close to the shores of Eldimoor or Karsim, while those who do attempt to cross the open waters or sail around the entire coast are truly desperate souls.
At the north end of the Wyrmling Sea, Highwall Sound separates the eastern coast of Karsim from the western shores of Ahkmir and Beslahn. With high mountains on either shore, the sound presents little opportunity for ports to the interior. The numerous sea level caves and craggy bays, however, provide many areas capable of hiding ships, making Highwall Sound a favoured haven for smugglers and pirates. The waters of the sound are relatively deep and well protected from the open sea, providing good fishing grounds. The sound's unusual topography, with its deep waters and steep, mountainous shorelines, creates the ideal habitation for numerous other beings, including Kuo-Toa, Sahuagin, Lizardfolk, Tritons and various Giant-kin.
The Iron-Gale Sea stretches across the western shores of Taeryhs, Karsim and Eldimoor. The Iron-Gale's cold, rough waters are frequently struck by powerful winds and strong storms, particularly in autumn and winter. Even on clear days the winds are strong and the waves a constant torment to seafarers, while storms can form with little warning. Mariners generally avoid sailing into the open waters, where the sea's fury is considerably greater, keeping to the calmer coastal waters instead.
Mordan's Reach runs between the eastern coast of Taeryhs and the western shores of Karsim. Named for the legendary crossing of Mordan the Exile and his Nine Hundred, the Reach is heavily traveled by fishermen and traders, both along the coastline as well as between Karsim and Taeryhs. While piracy is not uncommon on the open waters, the prospect of trade by sea remains a highly profitable venture. Merfolk and other sea-dwellers are also not uncommon, although larger denizens such as sea turtles are less known.
Reaver's Reach divides the Frosthold Islands from the northern shores of Meinyoch. Icy cold and given to rough seas, Reaver's Reach is navigable only during the warmer months of the year between late spring and early autumn. The waters of the reach are partially frozen over in early spring and late autumn, although the ice is too thin to tread on, and the waters too clogged with ice to navigate safely. During winter the reach is frozen solid, again allowing passage between the Frosthold Islands and the mainland.
In the middle of the Shattered Isles is the Shallow Sea, a circular expanse of calm, warm waters. The seafloor rarely exceeds a depth of ten fathoms, and in many places can be clearly seen from the surface. Travel on the Shallow Sea and between the islands is very common, mostly by small vessels. Larger ships that sail the sea are built with shallow drafts and little or no keel. The Shallow Sea is filled with a large variety of sea dwellers, although very large creatures are an uncommon sight.
The Whitestone Sea is an icy cold expanse of water off the far northern shores of Kryos. The southern reaches of the Whitestone Sea are navigable only in the summer months, as the waters are frozen over by mid-winter and remain that way until early spring when the ice begins to thaw. At other times in the year the waters are only partially clear, with larges patches of sea-ice and floating ice islands. By all accounts the northern reaches are frozen most of the year, if not all year round, although few are known to have ventured that far north and returned to tell of it.
The Wyrmling Sea spans from the eastern shores of Taeryhs to the west coast of Ahkmir, and north to the southern tip of Karsim. A broad, generally warm stretch of water, the sea is littered with tiny, isolated islands, many of which are said to be home to dragons although Wyverns are not uncommon as are other beasts. While marine travel is common on the sea, Wyverns searching over the waters for food pose an occasionally threat, as do pirates and raiders from the many small islands. Outside of the storm season, the Wyrmling Sea is generally calm, although the open sea beyond the southern lands quickly becomes rough and high seas are the norm, making travel unsafe for most vessels.
Several major mountainous regions are found on the continent of Kryos and the isles of Taeryhs. In addition to forming natural boundaries between distinct regions, the ranges provide habitats for a large variety of creatures, including the great Dwarven cities. The mountainous regions are major sources of minerals, and are the source for most of the worldís large fresh-water rivers and lakes.
The Daggerspire Mountains loom over the Jungles of Lyth in the distant south of Ahkmir, sheltering them from the dry Stonelands to the north. The Daggerspires rise sharply above the surrounding landscape, their bases covered in dense foliage before giving way to the tall, bare rocky peaks. Wild and untamed, the Daggerspires are host to numerous tribes of wild men, as well as ogre and troll clans and other giant-kin.
The mountains of Elerak's Teeth stretch from the eastern edge of Eldimoor to the northern reaches of Karsim. The mountains are pock-marked with caves and crags, deep crevices and jagged peaks, creating ideal conditions for mountain dwelling creatures. Orcs are common throughout the region, as are goblin-kin, ogres and other giant-kin. There are numerous Dwarven settlements scattered across Elerak's Teeth, although the ancient dwarf city of Voradonoc is the largest.
The Frostbeard peaks run east to west across the entire southern coast of Taeryhs. Old and worn, the Frostbeard Peaks are relatively low mountains, although the highest peaks are snowbound all year and at lower elevations the snows arrive in early fall and stay until late spring. Small and medium-sized Dwarven communities are commonly found in the Frostbeards, as are goblin-kin, trolls and various giant-kin.
Situated in eastern Meinyoch, the Icefall Mountains form the boundary between the northern plains to the west and the river lands in the east. The Icefall Mountains are a mixture of steep peaks, windswept hills, and deep gorges. Streams and rivers are common on the eastern flanks; fed by melting ice and snow in the summer, they freeze in winter, leaving the icy formations for which the mountains are named. Settlements are uncommon in the foothills and unheard of at higher elevations, although giant-kin and similar mountain denizens can be found throughout the range.
The massive Korrok Mountain range divides the lands of Meinyoch and Beslahn. The mountains rise up like a great, jumbled stair case, climbing towards the tall central peaks that run east-west along the spine of the range. There is a long history of settlement in the Korrok Mountains, viewed as the birthplace of the Dwarves, and the setting for several legendary conflicts with goblin-kin and giant-kin alike. The great Korrok Mountain range is the home of two old and powerful Dwarven cities, Osgorin and Tol, as well as the Duchy of Drustlun. Numerous other settlements, Dwarven and non-dwarven, can be throughout the range, particularly in the foothills and lower elevations.
The Revyk Mountains are situated in the south central Karsim, effectively separating the western coast lands from the interior. Old and worn, the mountains are home to many long-standing settlements, including the Dwarven kingdom of Urgoth, and numerous mining towns on the western and southern flanks of the range.
Situated on the western shores of Ahkmir, the Scorched Hills form the western boundary of the Midnight Sea. A relatively small range, they are a mix of low, rugged domes and broken spires. Dust storms are a frequently occurrence, breaking against the eastern slops, while even the coastal flank is subject to intense heat. The range is mostly unsettled, with only a handful of established communities along the coast.
The Silverfire Peaks lay in the far northwestern reaches of Meinyoch. Tall and daunting, the range gets its name from the brilliant glare that shines off the icy slopes. No large settlements are found anywhere within the range, although it is heavily populated by giant-kin, orcs, and tribes of wild-men.
The Shadewatch Mountains form the boundary between Karsim and Beslahn, stretching from the far south to the central valley between the Korrok Mountains and Elerakís Teeth. Dark and forbidding, the range sees frequent storms, and it is not uncommon for heavy rains and grey skies to block out the sunís light for long periods. Only well-fortified settlements line the slopes of the Shadewatch Mountains, which have long been dominated by giant- and goblin-kin alike.
The Stonepike Mountains rise up in the centre of Beslahn, dividing the land into four distinct regions. The mountains are dominated by graceful, tapering peaks that stretch far above the clouds. Numerous well-established communities are found along the slopes of the range, which is also home to a large variety of less civilized denizens.
Located on the northwestern coast of Eldimoor, the mountains known as Winterís Shield form a long and broad natural barrier that protects the interior from the harsh storms off the Iron-gale Sea. While at one time the eastern slopes of the mountains were heavily populated, since the devastation of Eldimoor the range has been left to wild tribes of desperate men and other, more savage beings.