What do you do when are the only hunter for your village in a pristine forest full of prey? You teach others to hunt. When you follow prey through the seasons, where do you stay? You build multiple lodges.
When last we were together, we discussed the northern plains and how the volcanic eruption turned them into the great northern forest. I would now like to lay out the sequence of events that led the locals from the caldera to inhabit the forest.
The northern forest was always known to be a vast wilderness of untapped potential. Hunters and trappers that spent any time there returned with story after story of the creatures they had seen. Always, they came with as many pelts, furs, and meats as they could carry. When the lake village began investigating alternate sources of lumber and ways to transport it to the caldera, they decided to hire those most familiar with the forest to lead an expedition. Due to rivalries, and an inability to convince the hunters to work together, it was decided that three expeditions would be sent into the forest. Four groups of people traveled down the river until it forked. One group was tasked to build a small lookout post at the fork while waiting for the others to return. One group traveled down each fork of the river while the fourth group traveled directly north over land. The task was to travel for one week before turning around and returning.
That year, a rather unseasonable (and unnatural) snowstorm hit just as the teams were to begin their journeys back. The strange weather caused portions of the river to freeze, making travel by water impossible. Each team was forced to scramble to find somewhere safe to take shelter and ride out the storm. Thanks to the skill and knowledge of the hired hunters, each team was able to survive a week of snowfall that has not been seen since. As they made their separate ways back to the fork, they were forced to travel well out of their way each evening to find a warm, dry, and safe place to sleep. It was during these sojourns that much more was learned about where the local creatures survived the winters than all the trips prior. After managing to return with all crews intact, the expeditions were deemed a success and plans were made to create permanent outposts. After much discussion, at the urging of a friendly druid, they decided to make multiple hunting lodges that would operate seasonally, following the herds as they moved around the forest.
The group traveling down the western fork of the river were investigating the kobold warrens when the storm hit. They were saved by the kindness of the kobolds and their subterranean home. When they returned to build a permanent outpost, they again met up with the kobolds and looked for a place that would not intrude upon their new reptilian friends. They were led to a clearing near the river, further than they made it the first time. The first hunting lodge was to be built here. Due to some poor decisions by the humans, their lodge was destroyed before it ever was completed. Nobody knows how or why, the bulette was attracted to the construction and proceeded to destroy the entire area, to include one of the kobolds’ favorite fishing spots. Unable to defeat it, they simply fled the area. Not only did it damage the work they had done on the lodge, but it also destroyed the good relationship they had with the kobolds. Ultimately, they found a location another mile down the river and decided to build the lodge in the trees to avoid any further destruction from under the ground.
Down the east fork of the river, the next group decided to build their lodge where the river forked again. It was here that the second, and biggest, hunting lodge was built. While they only operate as hunting lodges seasonally, this location was to also house surveyors and lumberjacks year round. It would take some time before the roads were completed, but this lodge was to be situated upon the only road built through the region. While construction started on the ground, word spread of the destruction of the first lodge and the plans were reworked. The original construction was turned into a meeting hall while the lodge was moved well out of reach of the bulette and his now now infamous ability to break the ground like a shark attacking seals. Inspiration for this lodge was drawn from drawings of elven architecture that had recently made their way into the caldera. As was now tradition in the region, a local druid was consulted to ensure that the trees were safe and that they had the blessings of nature to continue.
The third lodge was built roughly equidistant between the rivers, near the northern reaches of the forest. This remote location is the farthest and most separated place that humanoids have a presence in the forest. Sitting on a terrace of the lodge, it is a common sight to see all manner of animal simply wandering below, grazing on the abundant plant life. The disregard that they have for the hunters is one of the reasons that the hunters respect the forest life as much as they do, refusing to hunt simply to kill, and never hunting within sight or sound of a lodge. The serenity of this remote lodge is the reason that this forest and these lodges became a tourist attraction to begin with. When you have all the money in the world, but can’t seem to find that one purchase to calm your soul … a trip to this lodge seems to do the trick. Without fail, something about this forest, and this location, seems to calm and correct the greediest of souls.
These lodges are built amidst the trees at roughly 40 ft above the ground. While they operate as seasonal stops for the hunters, each location does support year round activity in the form of travelers, surveyors, and woodsmen. To enable that, tiny villages have been built just out of sight (to avoid spoiling the sights and sounds). These might be thought of as servants quarters in a manor house, where people live and work year round to ensure that the important guests always have what they need. While they allow tourists to hunt when they visit, they are always accompanied by a seasoned hunter and they are always told which prey they are allowed.
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 – (T) The Hunters have guarded their knowledge since founding the lodges.
DC 15 – (T) The Hunters and the Woodsmen don’t get along and have a bitter rivalry.
DC 20 – (?) The Hunters consider the lodges theirs and that they aren’t a part of the calderan rule.
DC 25 – (F) The storm that trapped them in the forest was really their doing.
DC 30 – (T) The storm that trapped them was the work of magic of some sort.
DC 10 – (F) The lodges were engineered by an elf.
DC 15 – (T) The lodges were engineered by a dwarf.
DC 20 – (F) The lodges are unsafe and that the bulette can still reach them.
DC 25 – (?) The carvings on the exterior of the lodges indicate the location of a druidic circle.
DC 30 – (F) The lodges are used for nefarious purposes while closed down.
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!