Thursday, January 2, 2014

[Urbis] Locations of the Cold Frontier - The Parliament of Animals

The First City colonists were masters at the magical manipulation of life, and they conducted many bizarre experiments. In this forest region where the Coastal Mountains transit into plains they had a research lab where they manufactured a magical artifact which continually extrudes a milky substance. If an impregnated mammal, bird, or reptile drinks from that milk, her offspring will have enlarged craniums, human intelligence, and extended lifespans (though still shorter than those of humans). After the First City colony collapsed, the lab was abandoned, but the artifact remained. Wildlife began to drink from the milk and their offspring eventually figured out the cause for their intelligence, eventually developing societies of intelligent animals which sometimes cooperated and sometimes fought for access to the artifact. Each species developed its own speech, and while most of them were incapable of speaking the language of other animals, they were able to learn them.

The Old Native civilization came across these animals, and eventually established peaceful contact and trade with them, ceding them the forest surrounding the lab in perpetuity. They also bound a powerful spirit to the site which was charged with protecting the artifact and the animals from harm - and unlike most other guardian spirits left behind by that civilization, this one has not become insane due to the veneration of the animals.

The society of the animals has now largely been stabilized, thanks in part to the influence of the spirit. No creatures which primarily prey upon other mammals or birds are tolerated other than avians, who must promise to hunt elsewhere - so no wolves or wolverines are represented here, and such animals are quickly chased away as soon as they enter this forest. Omnivores are tolerated, as long as they hunt mammals elsewhere and restrict themselves to plants or insects within the forest.

When the animals need to discuss matters relevant to all of them, one old and wise member of each species (often a powerful druid) goes to the lab to represent its people. This "Elder Council" also maintains contact with several human shamans in the surrounding areas, who use their influence to keep other people away - usually warning the various tribals that this forest is inhabited by powerful and vengeful animal spirits who will take offense at intrusions.

The PCs will likely learn that something is amiss when several mice stage a carefully coordinated raid on the supplies of the Weirdness Magnet.

Note: A complete list of all Urbis-related posts can be found here.