The Upland Marsh

Send comments and/or criticism to Simon E. Phipp
Created On 7th March 2004
Last Updated On 7th March 2004
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 2004

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 strapped together.


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 waters.

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 rot.

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 them.

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.

Newt Pools

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.

Drowning Pools

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.

Dead Places

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.

The Docks

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.

The Wall

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.

Delecti's Manor

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 armies.