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Plateau of Zühl

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"For travelers have heard such sounds before, and know that they float only from the cold desert plateau which healthy folk never visit; that haunted place of evil and mystery."
- H.P. Lovecraft


Located deep in the heartland of Terrenus, the Plateau of Zühl, also known by Norkotian nationalists as the Norkic Plateau, is a vast, semi-arid swath of highland plains. Most of the plateau's perimeter is made up of cliffs or stark embankments, making it very apparent where the border between highland and lowland are. Only at a couple of locations, such as Norkotia City near Garrison Bay, does the land have a more gentle downgrade. Much of the plateau's surface consists of savannas or desert, with scattered tree groves and some farmland near reliable sources of irrigation water. Several man-made lakes exist due to strip mining operations, though the largest source of water is Sidereal Lake, which hugs the northern and eastern borders of the plateau. Coal and oil are particularly abundant and are often exploited by the locals as energy sources. There are also significant iron and uru deposits, though the latter remains largely untapped.

The plateau is sparsely populated, with a population of only about 2 million people scattered across its entire 160,000 square mile surface. Most of the original inhabitants were tribal hunter-gatherers, with humans being dominant in the south and the elven Vulks in the north. Years later, the Norkic tribes arrived in the region, fleeing the oppression of Levas the Cruel. Over time, many of the existing nomadic humans were absorbed into the Norkic civilizations that sprang up, with the settlements that comprise modern day Norkotia being the most predominant. Over the years, frequent wars between the Norkotians and the native Vulks caused a dramatic decline in the elven race's population. Today, only a few thousand members survive within Norkotian territory, and a few hundred more live in extant settlements along the Sidereal coastline.

Largely isolated from the rest of Terrenus, the plateau possesses its own loci, for which the most notable characteristic is significantly weaker reserves of ambient supernatural energy in the air. Even the most magic-dense regions are only about half as saturated with magic as the rest of Terrenus. Much of the plateau is even less than that, making wizardry more difficult or even outright impractical. One of the weakest areas is around Norkotia City, where magic energy is less than a tenth as strong as it is on average elsewhere on the continent. As a result, the usage of magic or supernatural power is very rare among the denizens of the plateau, with mundane technology filling the void. 

Despite being largely devoid of magic and supernatural occurrence, the Plateau of Zühl somehow possesses a vague, often inexplicable reputation for being haunted. Within local folklore exist numerous legends that seem to indicate the region has a far less mundane past. Many modern descendants of the ancient nomads have passed-down stories of strange desert apparitions and weird after-dark encounters, while rumors persist of certain forgotten ruins in the most desolate reaches of the plateau's deserts. Even the logic-devoted Vulks still pass-down certain ethnic traditions that originate from a remarkably superstitious ancestral mythology. Even so, most modern inhabitants of the plateau no longer believe in such tales, thinking them nothing more than remnants of a less enlightened past. Though, the occasional desert hermit or Arkholm Sanitarium inmate may beg to differ.

Magic Suppression

Magic and other supernatural abilities are severely limited on the plateau, due to the effect of the loci. The suppression can be felt to a lesser extent in the lowland surrounding the plateau itself, but it does not reach full strength until one has ascended and cross over the ridge into the highland. The actual extent of the suppression varies depending on location, with some areas being far more limited than others. Below is a list of the estimated overall power of supernatural abilities per location (with 100% being the standard of the rest of Terrenus):

  • Norkotia City = 5%
  • Arkholm = 20%
  • The Expanse = 15%
  • Nightmare Lands = 50%
  • Forsthaven = 35% (upper city) 50% (lower city)
  • The Void = 0%
  • Ruins of Thyli'i = 25%
Edited by Tyler

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