Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Highlun: The Southern Continent

As I've worked out the various areas of Highlun, the southern continent quickly became the most interesting. The Northern Continent has the capital and the biggest settlement, but the Winding is probably the most adventure-friendly area on the planet, and the southern mountains are the real home of the vitkin, famed for their fabulously luxurious and expensive wool, as well as some of the most extreme terrain on Highlun. The Cauldron explores some of the tension and possible lack of purpose the Fogglanders will experience when they finally run out of planet and don't have to wear their iconic respirators anymore.

The Winding

The Winding refers to a collection of Fogglander settlements spread along the main river basin of the Southern Continent. Spread out over half a continent, the river ties them together with a common identity and transportation network. Cities of the winding are raised on stilts rather than terraced, and feature massive flood irrigated fields  tended by giant machines and an abundance of boats. 

The Cities of the winding serve a secondary population: those who live in the larger forest surrounding it. Highlun is notorious as a place to disappear in, and the winding is a large part of that reason. People who wish not to be known periodically visit its cities, their faces obscured by respirators, to stock up on the essentials before returning to somewhere in its temperate jungles to live for another few years. This includes both criminals on the run and a fair number of Templars. The Fogglanders of the Winding treat these visitors fairly, but with a watchful eye.

Notable locations in the winding include: 

Winmouth (The Winding's Mouth): The largest city in the Winding, and its default capital. Its infamous for being the city where "anything goes", as its usually where people trying to hide in the winding start their search. Winmouther's pride themselves on their work ethic and on their distinctive city.

Colgap (The Cold Gap): The end of the winding, Colgap is on the branch of the river closest to the Litmon and the Caldron, and is an important transportation hub. Its famous as the "Foggiest of the foglands", and has something of a reputation as transitory community.

Outlaw Camps: The Winding is well known as a place to hide in the Glorian Rim. As long as the refugees don't cause trouble, Highlun's government and populace leave them alone. This attracts petty criminals, political refugees, folks wanted for murder back home, and many others. Templars have occasionally hunkered down here. While shooting to kill is considered rude, warning shots are not. At least as long as you're far away from town. The area is huge, but in practice most outlaws live within 100 miles of a Fogglander town so they can get supplies. Some ride small repulsor-craft, but just as popular is a scrawny biped dinosauroid with a long tail, beak, and cheek frills known as a "bekfrill".

Liff Ruins: Highlun was once inhabited by an alien species called the Liff. The Liff were tall, bald, humanoids with blueish or greenish skin, slits for noses, and a habit of gluing gems to themselves. The Liff left ruins throughout the the planet, but the Winding is especially known for them. Its not known why they died off. The Liff were at least as psionically active as humans, tending towards Telekinesis. Rumor has it Liff Relics could still be found in the ruins, and some speculate that House Alacapa's gift for Telekensis is related to the Liff somehow. The Liff Ruins of the winding are the remnants of ancient cities, hidden by vegetation.

Southern Mountains

The Southern mountains are the coldest inhabited places on Highlun, rising to the south of the Winding and the Caldron. They have the largest population of Vitkins anywhere on Highlun, making these mountains famous across the Glorian.

Notable locations in the southern mountains include:

Highmon (The High Range): The coldest inhabited place on Highlun, Highmon is an icy set of peaks on the southern continent. Highmon's population is almost entirely composed of Herders, with a few scattered cities. Life in Highmon is harsh, and its people are known their portable shelters, climbing rigs, and warm clothing. When the Herding clans gather, those of Highmon are most likely to be found boasting about their terrible weather and things they've done out in it.

Witlun (The White Plateau): Witlun is so named or the snow that covers it half of the year. Witlun's herders are known for their wide open spaces, for the long shaggy fur on their riddersteeds, and for their love of racing across snowy expanses on lightning fast repulsor-craft.

Litmon (The Small Range): The Litmon is the smallest of the inhabited range, only a half the length of Highmon. It's south of the Caldron and east of the Winding, and is heavily mined. Litmon herders are notorious for their especially thick accent, half cooked food, love of unusual contests, and general acceptance of eccentric habits. They consider it a virtue to handle new experiences with robust vigor.
Brunlun (The Brown Plateau):  An arid plateau in the eastern rainshadow of the Litmon, Brunlun is both cold and dry. While not true mountains, the plateau is rugged, with hills, canyons, and buttes. The herders of the Brunlun build their houses on repulsor lifts, and follow their Apalaks and the wild Vitkin as the herds search for patches of vegetation.

Hafful (the Half Hole): the largest mining settlement in Litmon. Hafful's mines are still being expanded, along with the city's size and infrastructure. The city's core is built around an enormous semi-circular mine shaft, from which it gains its name.

Outkessle (The Far Castle): A military fortress complex and spaceport, set up just south of the Cauldron in the Litmon. While Midkessle also functions as a seat of government, Outkessle is primarily a military base. It also serves as a first-class navigation school, cultivated by House Alacapa over the centuries to serve their exploration efforts. The deep tunnels are rumored to have been used by House Alacapa as vaults to hide their secret navigational data.

The Cauldron

Nestled in the foothills of the Litmon, the Cauldron is the most recent Fogglander community. It lies in a large bowl-(or Cauldron)-shaped valley, with a river flowing out to the South. It was founded with the goal of being a smaller settlement project than the continually expanding Banks or the continent spanning Winding. 

The Walls: The mountains on the edge of the valley are devoted to agriculture. The multi-leveled terraces are similar to those of the Banks, but they lack the buildings inside: the people working them all live down in the Glesspan or up on the Rim.

The Rim: on the top and back slopes of the mountains surrounding the Cauldron is a secondary set of settlements technically outside of the Cauldron, but functionally an important part of it, keeping the outer infrastructure and agriculture running.

Glesspan: at the center of  the Cauldron is a large collection of continuous greenhouses kept at low pressure, containing most the population of Caldron. Respirators are not required in here, though many still continue to wear them out of habit, fashion, cultural solidarity, and stubbornness. Many inhabitants of the Cauldron believe that the entire settlement will one day be covered and that this is the true destiny of all of the highland. This is a fairly controversial view and many detractors (especially from the Winding and Banks) say that this will ruin the spirit of Highlun, or that it will make it like everywhere else and make the Fogglanders weak.

The Ladle: The area around the river leading out of the Cauldron valley is known as the ladle. It is fairly densely populated, though it is not pressure protected like the glass pan. It is famous for the number and size of the bridges crossing the river, and for its industrial nature.

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