Today I’ll be continuing my trek into Torment: Tides of Numenera—The Explorer’s Guide. Yesterday saw us a fair way through chapter five, on the Lost Sea area covered by this sourcebook; today we’ll be picking up there and seeing what else the Grater Garravia region has in store for us.
Jerboa refers specficially to the main settlement outside of the largest entrance to M’ra Jolios; it’s a merchant town for those who come to trade without being interested in trying their luck in the Sunken Market of the aquatic city. As such, it has plenty to tempt explorers and adventurers. You can find Ghibra here, despite the dessicated desert environment; they wear waterskins that protect them from drying out and can be hired as guides to the city or as contacts and intermediaries with those who live in the bubble of water.
Morphling Grotto is one place players may end up in Jerboa if they aren’t careful; it’s a slum where Jerboa’s unwanted congregate, leading to a high population of abhumans, mutants, and other undesirables, in addition to social outcasts. The main things on offer here are cheap labor, maybe-true translations and stories about the obelisk the slum is built up against, and – for those looking to enter M’ra Jolios illicitly – a way over the barrier that protects the city and some dubious means of breathing once inside.
The dry side of the Sunken Market is known as the Marina; the guards of M’ra Jolios keep a heavy presence on the aquatic side, to keep market visitors from going places they shouldn’t. All manner of goods can be found here, both those brought from far away and those produced inside the aquatic city itself. Entering the Sunken Market from the Marina is as easy as stepping through the wall of water, but doing so provides no method of breathing; as such, there’s a decent market in sales and rentals of air bladders and waterskins for those looking to cross in either direction.
Farther away, there’s the underground city of Haref, built in a titanic hole bored into the ground; a quarter-mile wide and three miles deep, it’s one of the mysteries of the prior worlds. The city itself is split between the ruling Nil and the subservient Sona – or it has been until recently, when the death of the ruler of the city has thrown things into a civil war, with the brutish enforcerers of the elite throwing in with whoever looks like they might have a chance of coming out of the mess on top.
The city is built in layers, ranging from near palaces and farms at the top down to a festering hole at the lowest levels; these lower levels are ranches for the city’s herds, as well as mines and workshops. The mines tend to produce a fair supply of numenera relics, the sale of which is the primary export of the inverse city; if you need players to visit the region looking for a device, sending them to Haref is a decent plan.
Next we visit the region of Ossiphagan, which already sounds like an excellent place to avoid. It’s a region of extreme volcanic activity, inhabited primarily by creatures that can tolerate the incessant heat associated with multiple active volcanoes and lava lakes. One of the few lifeforms actually good for humans are a form of snail whose eggs produce cool air and moisture; it’s only a matter of time before someone sets up a ranch for these creatures, I suspect, which will no doubt find their eggs popular across the whole of human-inhabited lands in the warmer months.
The ‘Ossi’ part apparently stems from the gargantuan bones that litter the region, particularly in the mountains that ring in the array of lava lakes. The bones are often carved, despite still being as hard as steel, and entire cities have been built using them; some property inherent to them makes them excellent insulation against the perpetual heat. There’s plenty to suggest that the area was a titanic foundry and forge for one of the prior worlds, both drawing up the molten heart of the world and likely recycling the detritus of the ages prior to it.
Ossiphagan is also home to a wonderfully horrific thing known as the Black Cube, a structure that serves as a prison for all manner of creatures; the interior appears to be a seamless and endless series of stairs, corridors, and alcoves, dimly lit and serving as an eternal prison for those within. I could build entire campaigns in this thing; it’s an extradimensional dungeon crawl that may or may not have an exit hidden away somewhere, a dungeon world in a cube just casually tossed aside in the forge-realm of Ossiphagan.
Onward we go, to the region of the Bordermarch Hills; the site of the Endless Battle that has raged for centuries. Whatever it once was, it now exists as a twisted, broken place, scarred and devastated by the forces unleashed here over the long span of the battle. It began as a fight between the Changing God and one of his castoff selves, the so-called First Castoff; during the struggle that grew out of that, time itself was splintered horribly, with layers of alternate timelines and parallel realities crushing together, overlapping, and churning as the forces involved engage in dazzling maneuvers to try to outdo the other side across all the timelines. The original pair that started it off have long since departed, but the struggle rages on.
Although not a large area in geographic terms, this may be the largest devastated area in the Ninth World in terms of overlapped realities, alternate timelines, and extradimensional spaces. There’s no way of telling just how long the fight has really lasted or how far into the multiverse it has ranged; entire realities have been torn asunder and timelines erased in the course of the fight. In truth, it’s probably one of the best places possible for time travel campaigns that miimize the work for the GM, as each alteration will get subsumed by another one soon enough, allowing for the group to dash along the corridor of time, meddling freely in an attempt to do the impossible and end the Endless Battle.
The next region is that of the Twisted Twins; it covers a region with a sizable woodland and waterway, apparently named for the two statues that can be found here. One, known as the lesser twin, is large and built from a soft kind of rock, while the greater twin is a fifth the size of the lesser and made of some silky and warm material. the statues, of course, have their own secrets; of greater interest is the carnivorous forest that grows atop the ruined city in the area, slowly trying to repair the damage to the buildings and occasionally flying into a starving frenzy.
There’s also a settlement where the castoffs of the Changing God gather, respecting a tentative peace that keeps them from fighting one another, backed up by the deadly force of the settlement’s leader. If you were to go with the campaign seed of the players all being castoffs, this place would almost certainly need to feature at some point.
Next up, the Garravia Sound, an inland sea is the resting place of a vast device known as the Machine Heart; this device is immense, vanishing into the depths an intermittently emitting tremendous gouts of energy that repel everything within a mile, churn the waters into deep turbulence, and whip up powerful storms in the sky. For those looking for a naval bent, there are entire towns on the backs of huge whales that travel from place to place, and the Garravia Sound is one of their stops.
There’s also the Tiaow Chain, a series of weather-free platforms that extend out from the shore into the sound that have been made into pleasure houses that range from a simple bar-like area well stocked with drinks and drugs to exotic sensation packages that cover multiple days and cost a small fortune to indulge in. There’s also the Tower of Birds, a strange place to say the least; it floats nearly a third of a mile into the sky and projects a powerful beam of light into the sky, making it an excellent lighthouse for navigation. It’s entirely likely that the beacon is part of some ancient information relay and a weapon in its own right; explorers will have to take their chances to figure it out.
That’s it for today; come back tomorrow as we head into the next section, the varied regions that comprise Lower Garravia!