Darkmoon Wood is among the most dangerous places in all of Avistan. A feral, fey-haunted forest on the edge of civilization, the Wood presents a constant threat to those who live nearby, but also serves as a persistent temptation to adventurers eager to make names for themselves.
Darkmoon Wood is located in Darkmoon Vale, at the base of Droskar's Crag, along the banks of the River Foam in northern Andoran, near the border of Isger and Druma. The dense forest, which stretches approximately forty-two miles wide and around fifteen miles tall, contains at its heart a small lake which runs into the nearby River Foam. Lumber camps can be found throughout the outer edges of the Vale, a reminder that the dangers of the woods are not enough to stop the expansion of the greedy Lumber Consortium. The nearest permanent settlement is the logging town of Falcon's Hollow, which rests about eight miles from the forest's southern edge.
Areas of interest
Darkmoon Wood is home to a wide variety of plants and animals beyond its more dangerous intelligent residents, such as the fey of the forest or the kobolds of its subterranean reaches. In most cases this flora and fauna remains neutral, existing solely to survive. That said, if a visitor to the Wood crosses one or threatens its survival, the results are often unpleasant.
Most creatures in Darkmoon Vale are simply animals or vermin, with no darker agendas than mere survival. The following are some of the most common creatures of the region.
- Firefoot fennec
- These red-footed foxes are common throughout northern Andoran and southern Isger. Their pelts are popular in Absalom and Molthune.
- Dusk spider
- These foot-diameter spiders inhabit nearby Arthfell Forest in large communities that weave immense webs covering several acres. Dusk spider venom, when properly milked from a living creature, makes for a potent alcoholic additive.
- Giant mosquito
- These pests are as large as small birds, but they tend (thankfully) to travel alone. Female giant mosquitoes (like their normal-sized cousins) drink the blood of warm-blooded animals.
- Giant moorsnake
- These ophidian predators are active mostly at night. As constrictors, they prefer to sneak up on their victims while their potential meals are sleeping.
- Unique to the Droskmere, mereswans are normal swans who can eat the mildly acidic popcarp within the lake and who only use a certain kind of volcanic rock for their gizzard stones. The combination of these two elements mean regurgitated gizzard stones of mereswans are smoothly polished semiprecious gems popular with dwarves.
- Mountain horses
- Indigenous to the Aspodells, these long-haired, massive equines are popular with miners for their easy temperaments and flexible diets.
- Mildly acidic flesh makes the popcarp of Droskmere an unpopular meal, except for the beautiful mereswans who live nearby. When threatened, a popcarp can explosively empty its gas bladder out its mouth to move quickly away, making a distinctive popping noise when it does so (hence its name).
- The slurk is the disgusting result of ill-advised dwarven efforts at breeding underground frogs. Kobolds prize the foul-smelling and slime-covered creatures as pets and mounts. Slurks live underground in damp caverns where the fungi and lichens they prefer to eat grow in abundance.
- Zhen worm
- A smaller species of great worms roughly half the size of Qadira's famous alamein worms, the zhen worms of Andoran can survive in environs that would kill their larger cousins. Zhen worms thrive in warm, moist soil, and many of them migrate frequently to the areas around Darkmoon Vale's geysers, mud pots, and other geothermal features.
Many varieties of unique and rare plants live in Darkmoon Vale. The following are those of greatest interest to residents and visitors of the region.
- These low-growing plants have leaves that grow in groups of four and taste of slightly bitter apples when eaten. Appleleaf grows all over within the forests of Darkmoon Vale and southern Isger.
- A black-headed fungus that tastes hard, bitter, and sharp. It grows in the water and causes blackscour taint if any part of it, including its spores, are consumed (usually by drinking contaminated water). Blackscour is not native to the region and was only recently introduced to Darkmoon Vale.
- Although the plants that bear them contain massive thorns, downberries remain a popular dessert treat when in season in late summer and early autumn. Downberries grow best in arid climates and grow all over the eastern side of the Aspodell Mountains and Wolfrun Hills.
- Elderwood moss
- This semi-magical moss only grows on the oldest tree in a forest. As such, two known patches exist near Darkmoon Vale: one upon the forest elder in Darkmoon Wood and another on the Green Patriarch within Arthfell Forest. Elderwood moss, when prepared correctly, acts as a strong decongestant. Some people claim that, when prepared incorrectly, elderwood moss causes premature aging.
- As its name implies, glowmold glows. Rather brightly, in fact. Glowmold grows very slowly on the undersides of igneous rocks, and the largest concentrations of this useful mold live for centuries under stones too large to easily flip or roll over. Smaller finds provide as much light as a torch. Regardless of the size of the moss colony, picked glowmold glows for 3 days once picked.
- Ironbloom mushrooms
- These stunted fungi only grow in dark places thick with metal. The diets of Five Kings Mountains dwarves consist heavily of ironbloom mushrooms, mainly because the plants grow naturally in and around dwarven forges. Protein-rich ironbloom mushrooms bear a slight salty taste but otherwise contain no flavor of their own, making them excellent additions to many dwarven meals.
- This strong stimulant also has mild hallucinogenic properties, which together make its users easily agitated and randomly aggressive (and easily identified, with bloodshot eyes and frequent nosebleeds). Originally imported from Vudra, pesh cacti grow in warm, moist areas, like those around the vale's mudpots and hot springs. Wild pesh cacti threaten to choke out native species near the geothermal vents. Outside of Katapesh, Darkmoon Vale is the largest supplier of pesh to nations of Avistan.
- Paueliel trees
- These silver-barked softwoods grow to immense heights, but never spread to more than a few feet in diameter. Lumberjacks claim paueliel trees are somehow connected with elves and give copses of them wide berth when logging.
- Rat's tail
- When pickled, this exceedingly salty root acts as a mild analgesic. Used raw, rat's tail gives a strong salty flavor to whatever dish it is added to. Many of the poor residents in Darkmoon Vale use rat's tail to flavor their food, as salt remains out of the price range of most.