Monday, February 9, 2009
I mentioned last week I intended to make a location ‘Valley of Blue Snails’ as a sort of newbie starting area. This area will be relatively self-contained with a couple smaller villages, some critter lairs, and a couple of plots of intrigue to get ones feet under their legs. Naturally this place will be a valley, and I am thinking it will be clustered between the free provinces north-west of Kabdoria so it touches all four of the major races territories.
The most noticeable thing about the valley is the blue snails (surprise surprise). I have dubbed them Sky-Shells, and intent on making them larger then life at well over 100 meters tall and just as long. They will have lustrous blue shells that gleam like mother-of-pearl in bright sunlight. Their flesh is a lighter blue and very durable beneath a perpetual coat of slime. There will not be very many of adult Sky-Shells, maybe a dozen. I will say three of the largest ones have villages on top them, sort of a mobile outpost that can hold a few hundred peoples.
There are two reasons for these outposts. First off any villages built in the Valley of Blue Snails have a fair chance of getting run over by a Sky-Shell at some point. A painful lesson and the dwellers in the valley can tell horrid stories of watching a behemoth wreck a village in slow motion (very slow motion). Secondly the outposts on the Sky-Shells are a remarkably safe place to build a village. The Sky-Shells have no predators and are straight forward creatures who roam about the valley munching on the fast-growing forests. The Sky-Shells themselves are all but invulnerable and it would be very difficult to dislodge any inhabitants on one. Sieges do not work well because they are mobile and unpredictable.
The valley walls prevent the Sky-Shells from crossing over easily. Not because of the height but because of the large amount of salt deposits that are imbedded in the rock. No adult Sky-Shells are known outside of the valley, although smaller ones make an appearance here and there. Several small specimens do exist in the valley, everything from about the size of a fist on up. They are social at time and will sometimes gather in slow colonies. It is not unheard of to have 5 or more Sky-Shells cluster together for some unknown reason. The Sky-Shells are not trainable and they can not be prodded into a particular direction – it has been tried several times with no luck.
Sky-Shells produce a fair amount of lucrative by-products for the inhabitants of the valley. The smaller ones are edible, and their shells are a sparkly blue that shines like opals. The large shells are duller but still valued to some extent. Some armor is even made from thick pieces of shell which are surprisingly strong. Mushrooms and herbs grow in the larger snail droppings and are prized by all manner of chefs, alchemists and wizards. The thick coat of slime that cakes the trail of the larger snails dries very quickly and is known as a potent hallucinogenic if devoured. In sufficiently high doses it can be a poison if concentrated enough.
As for their origin, the Elves say they grew during the great season of Shorfjaer, a 13-year Spring a millennia ago. Other behemoths also originated during this time but most of these have long since disappeared. Rumors exist in the far wilds but thankfully if others do exist they appear to avoid the civilized societies.
The Sky-Shells do not need a stat-line as you would have better luck beating on a hillside than to have any hope of doing any real damage to one. The outposts on the Sky-Shells will not be the only villages in the valley, but they would be well known places to trade. Other village locations would need to be on salt-flats or other locations that would deter Sky-Shells from crossing over them (and sometimes it doesn’t work). I expect to not have very many villages that are not on the Sky-Shells.