Gueressa, the Heart of the Hunt
Overview: Gueressa is a jungle continent that is almost entirely covered by lush rainforests. It is home to the largest natural trees and ferns (meaning, not magically enhanced or biologically engineered as they sometimes are in Irvalon), and it is filled with the widest variety of carnivorous beasts in the world. The Warlord Gulena, the huntress, is this continent’s namesake, and in Gueressa, everything hunts, and everything is prey.
There is an over-abundance of natural resources in Gueressa, but the persistent threats of wild animals, native resistance, toxic flora and heavy storms make it extremely difficult to maintain settlements, lumber camps or mining colonies. Even the largest native mainland tribes, the Gau’ten and the Res’tavn, have only claimed enough land for their primary cities through sacrificing many lives over long periods of time. Protecting these claims is a daily affair, and tribal Gueressan cities are extremely small and reserved compared with cities on any other continent in the world. Only the Uero elves, who live on the far-western shore, have maintained grand settlements that they protect through unique magics.
Since Gueressan perils come from any direction, tribal villages are typically well-hidden, spread out, and numerous. Avoiding the endless dangers is much easier than combating them, and constantly moving throughout the jungle makes it more difficult for the fiercest of Gueressan predators, which are predominately nocturnal in nature, to track the natives. Only in the largest native settlements are permanent fixtures seen on the surface. These “open-sets” are non-essential structures, like obelisks, totems, small shelters and rain-catchers, and they remain exposed only because they are easily repaired or replaced. These “open-sets” are typically the only signs that a tribe has been in an area. The rest of the native structures are hidden away in “closed-sets,” found predominately high in large trees, deep in caverns, or dug down through the soil. Each tribe has several preferred methods of building their closed-sets, but all of the tribes survive Gueressa because of their ability to hide in plain sight.
At one point, nearly all of the tribes were cannibalistic, and believed they honored Gulena by hunting the most cunning prey they could find (though, this was not always humanoid prey). This tradition caused many of the other nations to turn their back on Gueressa, and send emissaries elsewhere for trade. Some more recent expeditions have reported an enormous decline in cannibalism among the tribes, but most nations still do not accept the tribal societies, even the Gau’ten and Res’tavn, as legitimate governments. Only the Syrdans of High Kortenka have made regular contact with the Guero peoples, and often recruit their warriors into the Yrfæng, Ranosyrd’s military sector. As far as Gueressa natives are concerned, they have enough problems of their own to contend with, and relations with other nations are seen as frivolous and unimportant.
Major Geographical Regions: Au’renna River Valley, Gau’ma River Sparselands, Gracka, Guera Uar, Long Shadows, Ro’vayn.
The Au’renna River Valley: South-western end of the continent between the Hegrac mountains and the Uero tribelands. Heavily patrolled by Uero soldiers to ensure easy access for slaveships navigating between camps and Scalewell Bay.
The Gau’ma River Sparselands: Northern end of the continent. Fewer trees than in most of Gueressa, and fairly low slopes. Main area for Gau’ten gatherings and where most foreign travelers come to trade with Gueressan natives.
Gracka: A small river that leads into the large lake at the center of the Hegrac mountains. Considered one of the most dangerous regions in Gueressa. Between the seemingly ancient water life, and the highly reclusive dwarves who call the mountain home, few have survived a trek down the Gracka.
Guera Uar: The north-western chunk of Uero territory, including the several small islands jutting into the Ocean of Afterall. This region holds the most concentrated numbers of Gueressa’s elves, and the Uero Council calls the largest island, Uara Mai, their noble home.
The Long Shadows: Between the south-eastern face of the Hegrac mountains and the northern end of the Resa river lies an expanse of particularly dense jungle that sees very little light beneath its thick canopy. Typically nocturnal creatures are often seen out at odd hours in the Long Shadows. The nearby Res’tavn typically avoid the area if they can, but it’s rumored that some kind of pale humanoids inhabit this dangerous area.
Ro’vayn: A forbidden area located between the Gau’ten and Res’tavn territories. A tribe passing through this region is seen as a declaration of war by the other, and so the passage is marked with warning totems carved into dead trees or out of stone. Any adventurers found crossing through this area are typically met with distrust, if they are not immediately attacked by the tribes.