Cobra's Hood

Hydra, so-called because of its outjutting 'heads' from the central feature of the Obsidian Fist mountains, which themselves rear up like the seventh 'head' of the continent, is a land dominated by the Jungle itself, the whole continent a teeming, lush rainforest that thrums with the sheer immensity of life living within the Jungle. There are a few small holdings of civilization that manage to eke out a living in the Jungle of Hydra, but all who live on this continent know that it is only a matter of time before the Jungle devours their nations like it has all that came before. Only the yuan-ti are foolish enough to think otherwise, caught up in the hubris of their wicked god. The best that any who live in Hydra can hope for is to live long enough to have offspring to carry your name, before the Jungle takes you back into itself.

The continent of Hydra is the preeminent place where dinosaurs can be found. While there are many tribes that are able to live in the Jungle, the dinosaurs are the largely undisputed rulers of the continent, them and the teeming plant life, including a wide variety of carnivorous species. The continent also has conditions that are ideal for giant arthropods, and they are a constant hazard. As a massive rainforest, Hydra's weather is warm and wet, with a long dry season that lasts about a third of the year, and a wet season that lasts another third, with the middle times being used for transition between the two.

Places of Note:
Mantirrus: The large "island" on the northwest side of Hydra - though it is actually connected to the mainland by a very narrow and very high strip of land, hardly wide enough for two carts to ride, side by side, with a very sharp and very long dropoff on either side - Mantirrus is also the place where the human kingdom of Mankata has taken root, using the water as a natural barrier to keep out most invaders, allowing them some peace from the formidable Jungle of the mainland, and even giving them space to have farmland without the Jungle encroaching upon their efforts.

Bigsmoke: On the north of Hydra is the large island of Bigsmoke, so-called because it is marked for being the site of several deep fissures in the earth that almost constantly pump out sulfurous gasses, besides the location of many "paint pots" and bubbling mud pits, geysers, and other fascinating geological features. Most of these, however, are quite harmless as long as one does not actually step into them. Because of these interesting features, as well as Bigsmoke's more distant placement from the rest of Hydra, this island is a popular tourist attraction for travellers from Crescent, Summer Country, and Cargando. Several wizards who specialize in teleportation magic make a living by taking tourists who want to avoid the hazards of distance travel to and from the island (they often have sales as part of package deals, allowing all but those on the tightest budgets a chance to enjoy the beauty of Bigsmoke), and several druids and rangers work together to keep Bigsmoke safe for both the native wildlife and for the many tourists who visit. Naturally, of course, there are many incidents of tourists ignoring warnings and getting into trouble, as well as occasional planar breakthroughs (as the geologic features make a nice natural conduit to the planes of Elemental Earth and Fire, as well as a few locations on the Lower Planes), and sometimes creatures escape from the Underdark, or invade from the mainland of Hydra. Because of these potential hazards, the regular staff often requires the assistance of freelance help to bring their troubled tourists back into safety. For this purpose, the standard fee for such assistance includes free transit to and from Bigsmoke, as well as a decent fee based on the danger and difficulty of the task involved, with a bonus if the matter can be kept largely covered up, so as not to disturb the tourists.

Coho: The largest and longest of the three side islands, Coho, like Mantirrus, is also connected to the mainland of Hydra by two very narrow necks of land, one on the north and the other on the south, each about wide enough for a mid-sized dinosaur to walk along with some care, to avoid slipping and falling into the ocean. Coho is home to several mostly peaceful tribes of halflings and herbivore-based beastfolk, especially those based on deer and small rodents. These tribes tend to be seminomadic, using the lighter woodlands of Coho for cover, and relying on the bounty of their tropical paradise for their subsistence. However, these tribes are frequently raided by yuan-ti and other groups seeking slaves, and so these tribes must be constantly on-guard if they are to avoid being driven to extinction.

Mines of Woe: Sealed for centuries by the obsidian dwarves, the Mines of Woe, beneath the Obsidian Fist, were cracked open about twenty years back by an especially strong tremor that managed to shake their wards free. The Mines of Woe are called such because they are the site of a dangerous cult of duergar who had invaded the mines once used by the obsidian dwarves when they were doing exploratory delving into the deepest parts of the Underdark in the search for adamantium. The duergar had started to take part in terrible rituals to summon devils, and had entered into pacts with them, and so the obsidian dwarves, rather than fight an underground war against both duergar and infernal creatures, decided to raze the mines, and seal them off, letting the duergar starve to death in the deeps. The tactic worked, more or less, as the duergar in the Mines of Woe were indeed all dead, turned to skeletons or dust according to the scouts that have investigated so far. However, they also ran across portals leading to Hell, and later study indicated that these portals were used by many of the devil-tainted duergar to escape from the Mines of Woe to Hell, there to wait out the time until the Mines would be unsealed. Most of the portals were located and destroyed not long after the Mines of Woe were reopened. However, there are known to be several others in the depths, which could not be reached because of the traps that the duergar had set, and because of hostile creatures that had moved in not long after the Mines cracked open, drawn to the planar energy therein. While it will likely take several centuries before this becomes a serious problem, the obsidian dwarves are nevertheless facing a significant crisis if they do not find and destroy all of the planar gates before they crack open, unleashing Hell on Therafim.

Terrain Features:
Obsidian Fist: Sharp-edged and upthrust towards the heavens, the Obsidian Fist mountain range is as dark in color and reflective of light as its name suggests, an effect that results from a high amount of volcanic glass that has been fused with the stone of the outer surface of the mountains. This has the added effect of making the Obsidian Fist wickedly dangerous to climb, since many of its rocks have a vicious cutting edge. The dwarves of Obsidia rule here in the upper regions of the mountains, and in a few outposts that meet the outside world, but for the most part the outside of the Obsidian Fist is dominated by mountain-dwelling creatures and tribes of beastfolk, while the inner and lower regions are direct passages to the hostile world of the Underdark, and the location of several ancient ruins where ancient empires once built in failed attempts to escape the hostility of the Jungle. The Obsidian Fist range has several mostly-dormant volcanoes all along the range, hence the high amount of volcanic glass in the region, as well as the high fertility of the lands around it, and occasional releases of pressure from these former smokers sometimes causes earthquakes. Most of these are fairly mild, and many are not even noticed, but a few can get truly devastating, with such serious disasters taking place about once a century or so. The dwarves of Obsidia, of course, have built all their cities to account for this, and so their holdings are the safest place to be in case of such a crisis.

The Jungle: The Jungle has no name. It is older than any inhabitant that lives in it, including the many fallen nations and cities that can be found in its depths, each of them quickly devoured by the ever-growing forest surrounding them. It is like the air, like the ground, like the sky. The Jungle is Hydra, and as such, it is vast, all-pervasive, impenetrable, and defies all attempts to penetrate it. Even magical scrying is uncertain in the jungle, all divination spells that are intended to work on anything outside of a caster's line of sight having a 50% chance of failure. Many savage tribes of all different races live in the Jungle, especially halflings and goblins, as do a vast number of dinosaurs, not to mention an almost abnormally large number of hydras. The dinosaurs reign in the Jungle, and they are the undisputed holders of all major points in the food chain in the Jungle, challenged only by members of the sentient races, and then only occasionally. There is a diversity of plant and animal life in the Jungle, however, that is hard to find anywhere else on Therafim (with the exception of Matrakal, of course). At once the giver of life and its taker, the Jungle nourishes all its children, but always with the understanding that any one of those children could become food for another child of the Jungle at any time, without warning. The Jungle does not play favorites. In the end, the Jungle knows that it is the final victor, for it will eventually devour all that live within it, taking them back into itself to begin the cycle anew.