The Upland Marsh
Taken from "Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Within the Empire", also included in "Holiday Glorantha".
In the land of Sartar, on the border with the Grazelands, lies a phenomenon know as the Upland Marsh. A series of lakes, ponds and rivers lying between the Creek-Stream, the Creek and the Stream rivers, the Upland Marsh is unique in its tranquility and peace.
Created by the Demigod Delecti in the Second Age, the Upland Marsh has survived relatively intact to the present day and retains much of its original character, having been unaffected, in the main part, by drainage and clearances.
One of the most important parts of the Upland Marsh is the variety of wildlife that its waters support. There are hundreds of kinds of birds, amphibians, snakes, rodents and insects which teem throughout its waters and sheltered banks. Delecti discourages hunting within the Upland Marsh, except by the indigenous population of Ducks, Newtlings, Dragonewts and Marsh People, so the wildlife is fairly undisturbed and can live a natural life.
Another of the surprising things about the Upland Marsh is the relatively small numbers of people and things of a Chaotic Persuasion. One would expect that a large Marsh would be teeming with our Chaotic Brethren, especially considering its proximity to the Forest of First Reward and the SnakePipe Hollow. However, Delecti has recognised that our Chaotic Brethren sometimes can over indulge themselves when feeding and can damage the delicate biosystem of an area. Therefore, his soldiers try to keep down the numbers of Chaos in the Upland Marsh, hunting down dangerous creatures, driving off Broos and Scorpionmen and capturing Walktapi for their masters to take care of. This means that, of all the Marshes and Swamps in the Empire, the Upland Marsh is the least affected by Chaos.
The indigenous population of the Upland Marsh is made up mainly of Ducks, Newtlings, humans (Marsh People) and a few Dragonewts. These were here when the Upland Marsh was created and are Delectiís subjects. However, there are more people within the Marsh than the aboriginal stock. Outlaw Ducks from other areas of Satar and Kaethela have made the Upland Marsh their home, as have terrorists and outlaws from the surrounding tribes. Escaping trollkin from the lands to the South have made their homes here, sheltering in dugouts within the banks. There are even small groups of tame broos who live peacefully within the Upland Marsh, protected from harm. Most of the inhabitants live by fishing the plentiful stocks of the Marsh, gathering the abundant plant life within the Marsh or by hunting the fowl and beasts of the Marsh. Some will trade with outsiders and some bandits prey on visitors, although Delectiís patrols discourage this.
Delecti ensures the safety of the people of the Upland Marsh by mounting patrols each and every day. These are staffed from his army of revenants and are ever vigilant. Recently, Delecti has been creating a unit of Imperial Guards taken from those slain by Outlaws in the service of the Empire. This ensures that there will always be a number of guards who will understand those from the Empire and who will be sensitive to our needs. This is an example of the co-operation between the Empire and those within its borders. Travellers should be warned, however, that Delecti may try to recruit them into his service. Although the followers of Delecti may be offered Immortality, they should always consider the consequences carefully before agreeing to join his Legions.
Visitors to the Marsh should travel to Duck Point where they can hire safe passage on one of the many reed boats which ply the waterways of the Upland Marsh. These can be hired for as little as 1 Lunar Piece per day. For those who require more substantial transport, there are dugout canoes, or even small dinghies which can be hired, but they are more expensive. Guides may be hired to take you through the Marsh on foot, but that is slightly more dangerous. Care must be taken when hiring guides on the waterfront - some may be in league with outlaws. It is better to use officially approved guides, ask at the Lunar Garrison.
Hunting permits may be obtained from one of Delectiís trading posts surrounding the Upland Marsh, but they are expensive. We recommend simply taking in the scenery and observing the wildlife. Of course, you are always allowed to hunt to eat, so the occasional fish or fowl may be taken for breakfast without a permit.
All in all, we can heartily recommend The Upland Marsh as a place to visit for a well-earned break from the Imperial Grindstone. Look at the beauty, talk to the natives, perhaps even buy some of their folk art. It is a trip you will never regret.
The Real Upland Marsh
Dragon Pass has three areas of Chaos, in the south is the Footprint,
in the north is Snakepipe Hollow and in the centre is the Upland Marsh.
Of these, the Upland Marsh is probably the most dangerous as it is ruled
by a Demigod called Delecti who has an army of undead horrors. I will tell
you of the Upland Marsh and its inhabitants.
Everyone knows how Delecti was one of the Dragon Lords of the EWF who
broke the lands around his villa and flooded them with the blood of the
rivers that followed nearby. He was slain before the Dragonkill War but
rose again against all the laws of life. Since then, he has survived by
hiding within the Upland Marsh and corrupting all those he touches.
The Upland March itself is a series of still lakes, swamps and islands
with streams and rivers passing through it. Some of the pools and lakes
appear beatiful but be warned, they are deadly and are never to be trusted.
Beneath their waters lie disease, poison and monsters beyond belief. All
the still lakes and ponds are are surrounded by rushes and reeds which
appear to be easy to cross, but they are grounded in sucking hungry mud
that will swallow anyone trying to cross. The waters are still and calm,
but beneeath them are weeds and water plants that grab at anyone swimming,
pulling them under. Many of the lakes are inhabited by Water Nymphs, but
these are not the beautiful Nymphs of our streams and rivers, no, these
are the daughters of the broken waters. They are pale and appear diseased,
their fingernails are long and their hair is dirty, they have foul breath
and scabby skin, yet they lust after human men and will try to entice young
or handsome men to their waters and drag them beneath the waters to make
them their husbands. After a while, they tire of their husbands and give
them to Delecti to join his army. Beware them and do not listen to their
songs or their promises.
There are many dangers in the Upland Marsh, these include the vegetation,
wildlife, inhabitants and monsters.
The vegetation itself has been corrupted by the malaise that Delecti
brought, look out for reeds that cut and slash the skin, blood-sucking
grasses and rushes, water plants that grab the unwary and pull them beneath
the waters, poisonous grasses, areas of green that collapse when you walk
on them, arrow-seed rushes that fire darts at those passing by and screaming
reeds that scream when touched.
The wildlife has been touched by Delecti's diseased hand, many are
normal creatures that have been changed and have become horrible, including
blood birds, gigantic toads, lizards that only eat fresh meat, leeches
that suck the blood of anyone who steps in the waters, springing snakes,
living whirlpools, sucking mud creatures, floating mouths and other things
that even I haven't seen.
The inhabitants vary widely, some are harmless or rather are normal,
these include ducks, humans and newtlings. Even though they are normal
they can still be dangerous as only the desparate choose to live in the
Upland Marsh. Ducks and newtlings live near the running waters of the streams
that flow through the marshes, ducks live on reed mats tethered to small
islands and containing huts made of reeds and rushes, newtlings live underwater
in pools of fresh and clean water, some say they live in caves or in underwater
huts with air bubbles, but only the insane dive beneath the waters to find
out. Humans live in wretched villages on areas of dry land or in huts floating
on mats of reeds, or in huts standing on stilts or even in rafts and boats
Many people visit the Upland Marsh, most of them are dangerous and should
be avoided. Dragonewts do not live in the Upland Marsh but visit from time
to time for whatever reason only they know. Trolls come to the marsh to
hunt for chaos, they are normally Zorak Zorani so avoid them at all costs.
Outlaws come from many places to live in the Upland Marsh, some are from
Sartar, some from Tarsh, some from the Holy Country, some from farther
afield, but anyone desparate enough tom live in the Upland Marsh rather
than anywhere else must be crazy and must be avoided. Sometimes raiders
from the Exiles come to the Upland Marsh, pursuing some bandits or desecrators
of the earth or perhaps performing some ritual of blood, try not to get
in their way for they are maddened with blood. Uroxi often enter the marches
to kill chaos, stay away from them for they will kill you as soon as not.
Humakti often quest in the Upland Marsh to destroy the undead there, help
them if they ask, but do not cross them for they are cold-hearted killers.
Sometimes Lunars will come into the Upland Marsh in search of rebels or
to search out their chaotic foes, if you see them then try and kill them
for they are more dangerous when they return.
There are monsters in the marshes, some of these are Delecti's Spawn but
some are from other stock. Delecti's Spawn include zombies, skeletons,
mummies, ghouls, vampires, lamiae and other creatures that defy description.
There are creatures of chaos that live in the marshes, broos, gorps, walktapi,
dragon snails, lesser hydras and ogres. Other creatures live in the marsh,
I have seen giants standing in the waters catching giant fish, thunder
walkers feeding on the reeds, walking in from Maransland, crocodiles as
big as dragons and just as dangerous, snakes that can wrap around three
warriors and drag them beneath the waters and spiders that walk atop the
Travelling Through the Upland Marsh
The best way to travel through the Upland Marsh is by boat. Some prefer
wooden or metal hulled boats, other prefer reed boats such as the ducks
or newtlings use. Personally, I prefer the reed boats for the inhabitants
of the marsh seem to trust these more. Always take a reliable local guide
because the waterways are continually changing and no route is the same
week on week. When travelling in boats, travel lightly, do not wear heavy
armour or carry large packs for there is always a danger of being overturned.
Take food and water with you for you cannot trust the water in the marshes
and even the fowl is unfit to eat. Take dried fod for anything else will
For those without boats, the alternatives are poor. Walking through
the marsh is not advisable for the water is full of disease. If your flesh
does not rot away it will be covered in leeches. Any wound will become
infected and will rot away. Your boots will fall apart and your trews will
disappear before your very eyes. Watch where you tread for there are sinkholes
ten foot deep and mudholes that reach into Hell itself. There are things
in the water that are attracted by blood and sweat, these will attack from
below and will drag you away before you can cry out. Even wheh you walk
on the land there are reeds that cut you and sometimes the ground turns
to mud and sucks you under. Travelling on horseback is marginally slower
and does not cause you as much pain, but the horses will quickly become
maddened and will soon die.
The ducks and outlaws have set up a number of walkways between their
settlements. These are made of reeds or saplings bound together and allow
a fairly dry method of walking between these places. However, Delecti and
his minions know of these places and guard them, so be careful when using
Some people can fly over the Upland Marsh, perhaps on sylphs, sky bulls,
wyverns or using magic. This is a fairly safe way to travel, except that
Delecti's Minions always attack those flying overhead, so expect to be
struck by arrows and rocks. Anyone flying is always reported to the Vampires
and they will use all their means to bring down flyers, so be very careful.
Anyone travelling through the Upland Marsh will be beset constantly
by mosqitoes, midges and other biting things. These will make life a misery
and have driven people mad. There are some ways to ease the suffering,
spreading mud over bare skin helps as does the use of special potions,
but these soon wear off. Some people light foul smelling candles in their
boats and this keeps some insects away but attracts anything with a sense
of smell. Others use powerful magic to keep away insect swarms, trolls
have strong magic for this but local shamans can sell you charms.
Places in the Marsh
There are many places in the Upland Marsh that are relatively constant,
or at least do not change that often or only move around a little. Most
of these are places to be avoided, so be warned.
There are duck villages in the Upland Marsh, these are called Nests and
are found near running fresh water. Duck Nests are collections of reed
huts sitting on floating reed beds or rafts with some standing on nearby
islands. Each duck family has its own one-room hut with the whole family
living together. The ducks do not seem to have a concept of clans but have
related families living together. The children are not separated nor are
the bachelors or the young women. The ducks spend as much time in the water
as out of it and there are channels between the huts as well as walkways.
Many ducks simply dive into the water and swim to where they want to go.
Duck Nests are guarded by duck warriors who keep an eye out for Delecti's
Minions and the chaos that walks the marhes. They are not well armed and
merely shout a warning if they are attacked, so the rest of the Nest can
disappear underwater. In the centre of the Nest is a collection of huts
tied together and floating on water. These contain the shrines of the Ducks
and are where their priests and shamans live. Most Ducks within the Upland
Marsh worship the deities and spirits of the waters and their ancestors.
There are often shrines to the Sky River, the River, Creek and Stream,
Poverri the Fisherman and Grandfather Duck. Many ducks follow the ways
of their shamans and contact spirits to help them, they call the spirits
of the waters to bring them fish and to keep them from harm. Their shamans
can keep diseases away, but I think they call on Mallia to keep her away.
Sometimes when you are tired and hungry a Duck Nest is a god place to stop
for help as they are always hospitable for the first day, but after that
they become sullen and nasty.
There are about twenty Nests within the Upland Marsh, most are well
known by travellers within the marsh, so I will not detail their locations
here. Be warned, though, these are not Humakti ducks for they do not survive
for long in the marsh itself, so they are craven and weak, only surviving
by making accomodations with Delecti's Minions, so they are not to be trusted.
Newtlings live in pools within the Upland Marsh. I have never seen old
newtlings or females, so I think they are all bachelors here, but I have
heard of a Newt Pool that contains women and elders deep within the marsh.
Newt pools are always found in the centre of clear pools with streams running
into and out of the pool. There are some huts on floating rafts of reeds
and this is where the newtlings sleep, but there are always holes in the
middle of the huts for the newtlings to enter and leave the huts underwater.
I have never seen shrines in the newt pools, but I have seen shamans sleeping
in the huts, so I believe their shrines are found under water or in caves
beneath the marshes. Newtlings worship the spirits of the rivers and streams
and their shamans are more powerful than those of the ducks, so this is
a good place to come for charms and help. If you need a place to stay then
newt pools will allow you to sleep in their huts for a night for no charge.
They are the best place to hire newtling guides or newtling boats.
I have seen ten Newt Pools in the Upland Marsh, of those some five have
moved and three have disappeared. I do not know if they have been destroyed
or whether they have gone to other Pools, for they are not stable. Many
newtlings seem to change their behavious suddenly and disappear, some people
say their tails drop of and they are ready to mate, but I am not sure if
I believe this.
There are some humans who live in the marsh and are not outlaws. They are
the boaters and live on reed rafts or in reed boats and rafts, moving through
the marsh like nomads. They are a strange and sullen people who claim they
were left behind when the dragons came and ate everything else. It is more
likely that they came with the settlers and chose to live in the marsh.
Strangers are not welcome in their villages and are soon asked to leave,
although a strong and healthy man may be able to stay for a few days in
the arms of one of their women, if they can stand the rocking of the boats
on the water. They worship the gods of the rivers and streams but also
worship the naiads and nymphs of the marsh, sometimes taking them as wives.
They are not to be trusted even though they worship Poverri and speak our
language. Boaters can be hired and are normally reliable, but newtlings
are more knowledgeable and ducks blend in better, but boaters are cheap.
There are a few spots of dry land where villages have sprung up. These
villages only last for a year or so before they are destroyed or before
the land gets wet again, but while they exist they attract those outlaws
who want to live on dry land. Most of the huts in these villages are on
stilts over the marshes but some actually stand on islands. The villages
are haphazard and follow no pattern, but there is normally a shrine to
one or more of the outlaw's deities. Orlanth is often worshipped by these
outlaws, but they could worship almost any deity. Depending on who the
outlaws are and how long they have been there, strangers may or may not
be welcome. It is sometimes worth travelling to the permanent areas of
dry land to see who is there at the moment.
Although many of the lakes, ponds and pools in the marshes are deadly,
some are known to be particularly dangerous, they are known as the Drowning
Pools. These pools are inhabited by naiads who have been poisoned by hatred
of the living and have been seduced by Delecti. They wait for young men
to come near to their pool and appear to them as beautiful women dressed
either in translucent robes or in plants and weeds from the lakes, but
when viewed from the back they are shown to be decaying corpses. They try
to seduce the men by using their wiles and also by using powerful magic,
some dance, some sing, some play haunting pipes, some just use a kiss,
but when they have seduced their prey they take him into the pool and take
him beneath the waters where he becomes a zombie slave, serving the nymph
for all time. Many of these nymphs have zombie soldiers waiting beneath
the waters to fight off anyone who would attack them. Others have monsters
that live in the pools and obey the commands of the nymphs, I have seen
crocodiles and other creatures fight to defend a nymph from attack. If
the nymph feels threatened, she will disappear beneath the waves and will
call undines to attack and drown her attackers. The only way to defeat
such a nymph is to go beneath the waters and find her dwelling place, once
inside the nymph can be slain normally, but this is extremely dangerous
and is best performed as a HeroQuest.
Some places within the marsh are Dead Places, these are places where Delecti's
powers have become so great that the land and water itself has been corrupted.
In these places, anyone who dies will become a zombie, one of the living
dead. There is one pool with a wide expanse of grass beside it and weeping
willows that reach towards the waters where anyone who falls asleep beside
its banks will awaken as a zombie and will enter the waters to serve the
nymph who dwells there. Such places are well known and can be avoided,
unless the waterways change and lead you to them.
The Black Pool
This was made when the Dragons attacked in the Dragonkill war. One of the
dragons veered off and blasted an area of the Upland Marsh, opening a rift
into Hell itself. Some of the black waters of Hell bubbled up and formed
the Black Pool. This pool is about a hundred metres wide and almost circular
with no islands or vegetation within. Its waters are always smooth, no
matter how windy or stormy it is. Nothing seems to live in the Black Pool,
not even a nymph. Around the pool are jet black rushes and reeds. Anyone
who swims in the waters of the Black Pool finds himself tiring very quickly
and if he ever becomes completely submerged and then swims to the surface
he finds himself in a black pool in the middle of Hell itself. This is
a fairly easy way to enter Hell for those who know the location of the
Black Pool. However, once in Hell the HeroQuestor becomes the enemy of
the Black Knights who live beside the pool and will be attacked by them.
Nobody has been known to have escaped Hell using the Black Pool, so it
seems that it can only be used for entry.
There are several places in the Upland Marsh that are remnants of the EWF
who had settlements along the rivers and streams here. Most of these have
been lost, shattered when the lands were broken by Delecti, but some have
survived or were hidden by the vegetation of the Upland Marsh. Where they
survive they are useful sources of magic and mystery. They normally have
some kind of dock, often magical, where boats can be mored without harm.
Some are in magical landscapes, with holy places to various elemental deities.
Others are little bubbles of safety within the marsh and can be used to
prevent Delecti's minions from entering. Where these appear or are discovered,
they are quickly seized by the inhabitants. Some can be used to start HeroQuests,
others can be used to set up new temples and others can be used to attack
Delecti, so they are very useful places.
There is a wall around Delecti's Manor, this wall varies in size and is
typically around 10 miles around. It is made of banked earth, woven reeds,
bricks, stones or other more exotic materials. In some places it is built
upon the decaying corpses of Delecti's slain. Its height varies from around
3 metres on dry land to between one and two metres across the water. Some
of the wall is on stilts and can be swum under. This is the outer boundary
of Delecti's personal domain and is guarded by zombies, skeletons and ghouls.
Periodically, certain parts of the wall are attacked by Humakti and torn
down, but they can never stay in the marsh for too long and the wall is
always built back up again. In some places, the wall includes ruins from
the EWF. Delecti treats the wall as his boundary and defends it against
any attackers. Anyone wanting to visit Delecti's Manor must cross the wall.
Situated on a low hill within the Upland Marsh, Delecti's Manor is an EWF
building but closer examination reveals that it is decaying and seems in
danger of falling down. The walls are covered in mould and the metals are
rusted and corroded. The stonework is crumbling and plants grow all around
it. There are large breaks in the walls where Heroes have forced their
way in. The roof is threadbare and full of holes. However, it stays up
and has never fallen down, even when shaken by powerful magic. There are
four small towers that serve as lookouts and a myriad of guards keep an
eye out for enemies. More vampires can be found here than perhaps anywhere
else in the world as well as all kinds of undead. Within the walls lie
Delecti's Court, a parody of the EWF. Very few people enter here and survive
so all reports are inaccurate. Around the Manor are green fields and hedgerows
or stone walls, but these are full of zombies and skeletons. There are
several ponds in this area, but these are not connected to the Upland March
itself and are inhabited by powerful warrior nymphs who can command zombie