Ellamthorn Lake, from the Gazetteer of the Speaking Lands

I cheated and elaborated the entry for Ellamthorn Lake before posting it, because it was one of the earlier entries written and other entries added more to its story than was listed in its original form.  Oh well, more worldbuilding goodness! 🙂

Ellamthorn is a little locus of adventure possibilities, and may feature as an adventure supplement someday in the distant future.  There’s a whole lot of conflicts baked in that could be leveraged to make some great stories.


This large body of water in northeastern Outland is the second-largest lake in Ipeiros, second only to Farrouka Lake in Verdas. The lake draws its water from a massive watershed that stretches from Toriel to Loratha and includes nearly all of the Norsteppes. Its north shore is sharply defined, with uncountable small streams draining into it. The south shore features trackless swamps and fens.

Ellamthorn is something of a landmark for adventurers and other continental travellers, as it presents both a large obstacle and a welcome waystation along many travel routes. The shores of the lake harbor a number of settlements ranging from fishing villages to bustling cities. The largest of these are found on the southeastern shore. Many different peoples call Ellamthorn home, producing a lakewide cosmopolitain culture—and a large population of humans.

For much of its history, the lake’s north shore and south shore had a long pseudo-rivalry. The north shore cities, built on stable riverbanks, were bastions of trade and industry. The south shore, built in swampy marshlands, were considerably less stable (or sanitary) but produced abundant harvests that fed the north shore. Both sides relied on each other for economic stability, but that didn’t stop them from maligning their neighbors as “uncouth southers” or “uptight northers.”

The region might have become a trading powerhouse if it were not for the perpetual waves of raiders. Norsteppes horseraiders harry the settlements along the north shore while the south shore is plagued by raiding parties from Xenix Gorge. These raids all but ceased during the reign of the Dread Tyrant, and Ellamthorn is one of the few places in Ipeiros that flourished under his rule.

At least half of Ellamthorn flourished, that is. When the Ogrewar erupted from the southern shores of the lake, waves of hunger-maddened ogres washed through the marsh cities. All of these cities fell, but not before messengers crossed the lake to warn the north shore of what was coming. Thus prepared, the northers was able to hold off the tide of ogres long enough to dig in and fortify.

The remaining cities put the south shore refugees to work in their factories to fuel the war effort and used the substantial profits to import food via caravan. While much is made about the heroism of Caer Larionad, it is doubtful the Ogrewar would have ended without the material support of Ellamthorn Lake.

Now with the fall of the Dread Tyrant, raiders have returned, threatening the trading links that feed the cities. But the Ellamese cities have piled up riches for a generation, and now ride out to meet the raiders on fine war steeds and armed with Hardhollow steel. Some even speak of forging a coalition to take the fight to the gorge or up into the steppes, arguing that the raiders threats to the food supply make them an existential threat. How this situation will resolve is anyone’s guess.

Ellamthorn has no outlet rivers and was long assumed to be a terminal drainage of the surrounding watershed. However, the lake’s waters remain fresh; a terminal drainage would have long ago grown salty. The apparent contradition was resolved by a delegation from the Arcane Mysterium pursuing an unrelated investigation in Tallus. They found that the vimstones produced in that city shared arcane resonances of the distant Ellamthorn Lake. The water used to create the gemstones had been drawn from the oasis, whose underground source had never been identified. Further investigation revealed that most of the oases of Outland are fed by one or more underground rivers drawing water from subsurface outflows of Ellamthorn.

We’ve got a fun grab bag for this week’s poll.  Shall we check out the other, southern lake, the homeland of the elves (and all the other peoples they oppressed), the pernicious horseraiders, or the modern wonder that is Hardhollow Steel?

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