Looks good, I like what you've done so far. But I also like Johnny_Angel's idea of part of the waterfalls coming down of an outcropping at the top of the cliffs. Anyway of including that in the pic?
I rather like this idea too. We could even cross the galapagos with a snapping turtle, making the tortoises omnivorous and slightly more aggressive. I'm picturing the turtles/tortoises congregating around the lake and deeper parts of the river catching fish and eating mosses, ferns, and grasses. For Dungeons and Dragons, it will make our valley rather unique from an ecological perspective. (I'm also getting a kick thinking about the reaction from "DnD=WoW" nay-sayers: "See the game even has "Snapjaws". :D )
The City of Redding and surrounding communities (where I'm from) sits at the top of the Central Californian valley, through which the Sacramento River flows from our glorious Mt. Shasta to the deltas in the San Fransisco Bay area. While our yearly weather is somewhat Mediterranean, even here, our year is basically broken into four seasons as well: hot, typically dry summers; mild, rainy winters; with two rather short, generally windy transistion periods (we've even had hurricane force winds.) On occasion, we'll get snow, but it's usually not in any significant amounts ( wish I could have snow) except in the mountain ranges we sit between. So aside from the obvious climate change, I can't really see much difference in seasons between here and the sub-temperate mountain "rainforest" we're trying to create; snow in the winter, a rainy spring to early summer, the late summer/early autumn being cloudy but somewhat warm, and a fairly blustery late fall along with some occurances of fog through out the year.
I agree with the halflings and the fact that the town shouldn't have any major trade (at least not early on), and certainly not on the river. Perhaps the halflings could even begin taming the tortoises as pets and/or beasts of burden.
There seems to be some confusion. Are people thinking tortises (land animals with feet) or turtles (aquatic creatures with flippers.)
A hybrid of the two is what I've been imaginig, though a turtle probably fits the area and climate better. I'm thinking of features of both with a bulky, high-arched shell of a tortoise, and thick, webbed feet/flippers.
Dire Giant Snapping Turtle v1.3
I'm not quite sure what you mean. I was understanding that the waterfall flows out from the redoubt, but I could have it gush out from the rock...
I'm not quite sure I follow what you were trying to say, and I couldn't find anywhere where JA said anything similar.
I am very open to changes. I was just trying to get a starting off point.
ShowWe are still going to need a threat animal for the tortoises and inhabitants if the tortoises are going to be a mascot. If I can throw an idea out, perhaps durring the winter a pack of Winter Wolves comes down to the valley to hunt the tortoises, or perhaps Dire Mountain Lions live in the mountain range and are sometimes a threat (I'm a cat person, so my choice is the Dire Mountain Lions).
ShowI personally prefer mild winters without snow, but that is just me. If we do have snow in our valley, we will have to make sure that the cliff face that the town is mainly built into is away from the prevailing winds so the snow does not regularly cover up the houses and trails during the normal winter season.
ShowI would think that halflings would be more likely to domesticate the llamas mentioned before than tortoises for moving goods into mountainous or hilly terrain. They would just be faster and more sure-footed.
I can see mountain goats, but I think llamas are pushing it. We don't want an off-the-wall ecology here, just a few interesting details. For instance, say we had turtles, llamas, dire black lions, zebra, and kangaroos. While that would be interesting, I feel it would really detract from the setting.
Now one giant crazy animal is pretty nifty, but add a ton of them, and it starts to lose the charm. Two can still be neat, but after a while, they start to either make the setting unbelievable or they start to become old hat (go to peru and see how many people think llamas are outofthisworld.)
I used to live out in the country and do you know what animals I saw? Deer. Lots of deer. Sometimes three or four a day. Maybe once a week I'd see a rabbit or a skunk. Now I know we had peccaries, skunks, rabbits, deer, coyotes, owls, racoons, and a whole slew of animals, but that doesn't mean I ever saw them. Just the most common ones.
On llamas specifically: I could see them living high in the mountains, but if they were there, it'd be best to keep them as a rare sighting, a treat for anyone who found it. They shouldn't be common pack animals. (on a personal note: you mentioned llamas being akin to mountain goats in the area. My uncle was a cartographer and one of his jobs was to track goat paths. Sometimes it would take him weeks to see a single goat. Just because the animals are there, doesn't mean you can see them.)
Not necessarily. We could also have the tortoises congregate in pods; one to three females, and the rest male. That way, the population is limited, as there would be very few young. Secondly, some of the residents may come to discover tortoise meat to be quite nutritious, and they'd end up becoming the predators. With all that, the turtles could inhabit the valley without risk of natural predators.
However, that doesn't mean there couldn't be. There could very well be some predator in the valley that preys upon the turtles for sustenance. I can't think of one that already exists, but I'm sure we could think of something that would work.
Unfortunately, from my experience in a valley, there's not really any predictable path for "prevailing winds" (especially in a mountain valley.) Sure there are trends, even signs, but it's really not practical to protect yourself from only one direction all the time. Air currents, storm fronts, and the like can come from any direction, and there's really no way for the unequipped to tell. Because of the erratic climate changes, snow will fall on the houses, storms will buffet the city, and hardships would probably be fairly frequent.
Actually in the new edition, they've been flavored as a "river-based folk". To me that means that's wher most of their livelihood comes from. As such, they would be more apt to utilize river-dwelling beasts for domestication, instead of trapsing around some mountains trying to find some elusive llama. The turtles then would end up being used as pets, mounts, beasts-of-burden, etc.; while it wouldn't be very useful on land, it could be useful in the waters of the valley floor. However, having a species of llama indigenous to the area wouldn't be too out of place.
That is certainly possible, but if the tortoise population is naturally low I would worry that the new inhabitants might kill most/all of the ones off in the valley shortly after finding they taste good (like chicken?). If on the other hand we have a predator creature that kicks in to keep the population in check once it gets to large (regularly like the mountain lions or seasonally like the pack of winter wolves) the refugees could catch them on the upsurge and other than creating a weak year for the tortoises they should pull through.
I see your point. I suppose I used the wrong wording though. I wasn't exactly looking for completely out of place animals. I was just trying to come up with a few ideas for what was around. We can assume that things such as bears and wolves are around, but what are some of the things that are more prominent in the area of the redoubt when compared to other areas.
That's not to say that they're always seen, but there's enough of them that if/when the settlement grows they could impact the type of industries which develope.
Mainly I think I was just bored earlier. It was more thinking out loud than anything else.
As for controlling the turtle population...people can eat turtle. The turtles are also big enough that they would attract other predators such as mountain lions.
On the ideas of unusual animals in the area
I know it's probably a bit too thief-ed to use, but ever since I saw Princess Mononoke I've always wanted to have a tribe of wild elves (which I guess would just be 'elves' now) using large deer or elk as riding animals through rough terrain.
Princess Mononoke - now that is an anime I have not seen in a while. You know I really like that idea. What if we have a group/village of elves relatively nearby. They could be simultaneously helpful and watchful of the new refugees. With the refugees moving into the ancient dwarven building there is no immediate conflict over living areas, and as long as the people did not pressing to far into the forest towards the elves' home they could offer some small aid to help the refugees survive, especially in the first few seasons/years.
I've heard all the ideas and I would like to post one of my own about the location of the "city".
What if it was built on an old, run down cliff side fortress?
The fortress could 1) be connected to an underground cave complex prison/basment/final barracade
2) be the ruins of an old (insert race here) settlment with lots of food water ect.
3) Have a lake at the base of the cliff possibly with a water fall draining into the lake
The refugee's/residents would be forced to repair the fortress from the hordes/animals/evil people whatever.
A for the inital residents and the refugees it could be that all the races were what was left of the region's cities after they were pillaged by say and an army that turn out to be all the PC classes
Then the refugees are the broken remenats of that army. That would lead to a lot of conflict:D
PR, I concur with D.Axehamer, that picture is excellent. I like the Dire Snapping Turtle at the bottom of the valley/falls. Perhaps it's a statue that has been there since the redoubt was discovered. And as a further perhaps, the statue could have been a very old D.S.T. that had a run in with a Basilisk or the like.
Controlling the population of the D.S.T.s would also be easier if we were to consider them to be migratory. Perhaps the DSTs come back to the valley (Area A from the earlier overhead map) and lay their eggs in the small lake, where the warm water (geothermally heated river or hot spring, should we use either) is critical to the incubation of the eggs.
Eladrin? I'll have to think about this one some more. Anyone else have ideas?
I was starting to think about possible characters in our group of refugees. One I came up with, which I really like, is a falconer. A regal man of the woods, with a high Nature check, in the style of a 3.5 NPC class expert.
What other types of survivors/refugees should we have?
If the city was near a traversable water source, there may be some halflings in our group. I am having a hard time thinking of why they would set off with the rest of the refugees rather than set off down the river. One possibility is that their numbers are so few that it would be too dangerous to set off down the river alone. I'm thinking less than a dozen halflings.
Dragonborn mercenaries are not uncommon, and while many would have fallen in the wake of the threat (gold dragon?), perhaps a noble few (hired to protect families?) defended and safeguarded innocent people, rather than directly confront the threat. This would leave us some good, altruistic dragonborn who are already integrated into the group. Perhaps 4-7 "warrior" dragonborn?
I would like to see a "token" Tiefling. I know the Tiefling is not everyone's slice of pie, but one charismatic tiefling could lead to a small population of tielfings in the city later on (they breed true with humans ).
It would most likely be a dwarf that knows about the redoubt in the foothills of the mountains, perhaps a scholarly sort. If he were (much) older, he could have a sizable family, which may have gone to ground in the wake of the threat. This gives us a dozen or so dwarves and a good knowledgeable scholar (who perhaps saved some books?) who may also be an articifer of sorts and a respected elder in the community. One of his sons-in-law could be an accomplished smithy and/or mason.
A handful of nearby elves in the woods might not be such a bad idea, and would add to the defensibility/survivability of the city. There should not be so many or they should not be so helpful that it makes living in the new city too easy. Barring that, there may have been some trackers/trappers living in the city in the employ of noble houses, etc.
Eladrin? I'll have to think about this one some more. Anyone else have ideas?
Half-elves would not be uncommon in a city that had elves. We don't know anything about 4E half-elves, so it may be too early to adapt them into the city except to say that they are present.
The dragonborn mercenary band could have been hired as supplimental law enforcers in the town. I just came up with a devilish idea (pun intended.) Extra muscle was needed due to an upcoming important festival which was based upon the town mythology and belief structure. This was the biggest one yet because it was the ____th celebration of the festival, the founding of the town, and the mythological arrival of the local deity and the beginning of their prosperity. What the townfolk didn't know was that this was also the day when the deal with devil (who is also their local deity) ran out.
Hmm. Maybe the Dragonborn group (clutch? wing? horde? clan? family?) operated as a mercenary band of caravan guards during the glory days of the city. The city hired a lot of mercenaries to supplement the city guard for the grand celebration. When the dragon broke loose, most of the city guard were killed during the attach and chaos, and many of the mercenaries fled. At the conclusion of the exodus, the remaining leadership of the city conscripted the Dragonborn as the core of the new city guard. Between a sense of duty and a somewhat irrational sense of failure due to the fall of the old city, the Dragonborn have accepted the task.
The city guard is a very select force, and no one is accepted until the Dragonborn have properly indoctrinated the potential recruit. The Dragonborn make up between 1/5 and 1/4 of the guard, including most of the command positions. The rest of the guard is made up of the Dragonbred. :evillaugh