Welcome back. Now that we know the layout of the rainforest, we can take a look at some of the life, and possible unlife, that we will find inside of it.
A series of small human settlements near the entrance to the valley account for 99% of the humanoid population of the valley. These villages are primarily home to those that forage in the rainforest. This foraging is mostly just a part of survival in the region, but a large part of the basin’s berries, along with other plants used for medicines, are found only in the rainforest valley. These villages provide a point of trade with the rest of the basin communities. While much of the life of these villages is simple and mundane, they are frequently beset by mysteries that seem to only further implicate that the region has some sort of fey haunting intent on keeping people out. These mysteries range from missing possessions, dead pets or livestock, to people with missing time or even family curses. One of the most noticeable aspects of these villages to outsiders is the way in which the forest around these villages are subdued in both activity and sound. Almost no jungle sounds can be heard in, although a mere 100 foot trek into the trees envelopes a traveler completely, with no evidence that a human village is nearby. This creates a strange aura in the villages that manifests as a tension of sorts between locals and visitors that only adds to the strange tales of mysteries told by the locals.
The ruins found in the center of the valley have thus far been a complete mystery. While the evidence seems clear that the site was human in origin, there is no known history of the site, and no artifacts have been recovered that might be used to piece together such a history. Much of the ruins have been overgrown and eroded to the point they are hard to point out by casual observers. While the waters in this area are normally pooled in much of the ruins, the full reach of the ruins can be made out when the waters are low and stay within the natural border of the river. Doing so would require quite a bit of manual labor combined with either divination, the ability to move earth and plant life, or the ability to speak with plants and animals.
The most bizarre claims made by those that have visited the ruins are the appearance of stairs. While there aren’t any known standing portions of the ruins remaining, travelers in the area have reported that the fog will sometimes part, revealing a staircase that is fully intact. Just as quickly as it appears, the fog rolls back over it and the stairs disappear before anybody can reach them. People staying the night in or near the ruins are usually subjected to firefly swarms, while some are subjected to nightmares, night terrors, or worse. In almost every case of somebody witnessing any of these things, something is either removed from or added to the gear they carry with them.
Rumors abound of the fog in the rainforest having intelligence. Some claim that it follows them, while others claim that it either hid a trail from them or opened a passage for them. These claims are infrequent, but have been made by credible enough people that the locals have taken note and are sure to pass this information on. Many claim that this is proof that fey haunt the valley and are using magic and illusions to hide things from mankind. Others claim that the spirits of those they die in the valley are unable to escape, due to the same strange processes that have kept the rainforest in existence all these millenia. At least two clerics of credibility have claimed that through the use of magic they have determined that these patches of fog are undead creatures of some new sort, but that they are not malicious in nature.
Much of the animal life in the valley is made up of small/tiny birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects, but there are a number of larger predators. One notable smaller predators are tarantula bigger than the hummingbirds they prey on. Another predator, notable for its bizarre, fey-like, appearance is a variant of the mata mata; a fully aquatic turtle that that eats fish and other invertebrates. The river contains a variety of fish, many of which are larger than expected, as well as some predatory fish that live in and near the rapids. Piranha, eel, and catfish are the most commonly encountered members of the river. The most feared predators in the valley, can be found in 3 locations. Locals claim that near the rapids exiting the valley, there lives a creature that resembles a shark, but has been known to chase victims onto land. Near the ruins, people have encountered a trio of velociraptors hunting for food. Miles east of the ruins, in a short offshoot valley that becomes a cave complex, is the lair of a mated pair of pygmy stegosaurus. Thus far, the velociraptors seem to come no closer to settled lands, likely due to the abundance of food in their hunting grounds. Only one report of an attack by either sets of dinosaurs, and upon investigation it became apparent that the people were to blame.
The Rumor Mill
Each of the following rumors can be learned by spending an hour or more gathering information from locals. The DC listed is the target DC to determine if the rumor is true (T), false (F), or nobody knows (?).
DC 10 – (F) The velociraptors are afraid to enter the ruins.
DC 15 – (F) The ruins are that of a city that was destroyed by dinosaurs.
DC 20 – (T) There are spirits near the ruins that might be communicated with.
DC 25 – (?) The stairs are simply illusions brought on by group think and paranoia.
DC 30 – (T) The firefly swarms are provoked or controlled by will o wisps.
DC 10 – (F) The dinosaurs hunt humanoid children
DC 15 – (T) There are spiders big enough to attack and kill birds.
DC 20 – (F) The pygmy stegosauruses are really just another creature mislabeled.
DC 25 – (?) The undead fog has killed and is constantly on the hunt.
DC 30 – (T) There is more animal life up in the canopy than there is at ground level.
Please keep the name ideas coming in to our Discord server https://discord.gg/Rt79BAj. After we get a handle on all of the locations, I will be picking names from those submitted to help flesh out the history of the region!