Strangehollow is a vast and ancient wilderness. It encompasses dense forests, dreary marshes, craggy hills and mountains, and hundreds of miles of coastline. The wilderness is inhabited by numerous magical creatures, many of which are unique to Strangehollow. Some may be familiar to explorers, adventurers, and tale-tellers, at least in name, but even those tropes are likely to have their own surprises.
Veteran explorers and minstrels tell stories of the cursed monsters that thrive in forests and swamps of the hollow. Many such creatures are wily and clever, using the inherent dangers of Strangehollow to their advantage. Some are truly mighty, capable of felling any mortal who offends them with but a flick of their talons or tails. Some creatures are so malicious that they take the time to toy with humanoid prey before devouring it. Anyone who lives within a hundred miles of the vast wilderness knows someone who knows someone who went missing in Strangehollow. And while most of the stories of man-eating creatures are merely fiction, the handful that are true are enough to keep the wise and the meek away.
The land is wholly untamed, and outsiders visit rarely and at immense risk to their lives. Most travelers brave enough to venture into the hollow make it only a few days before retreating or disappearing. Those who tell of going deeper are either truly legendary or exemplary liars. There are tales of powerful mage-folk or shamans who call Strangehollow’s depths home, but these are certainly exceptions if they exist at all.
Travelers in the hollow are as likely to run afoul of physical and environmental hazards as they are to be mauled or eaten. The landscape seems to twist and shift in ways that make wayfinding nearly impossible. Flora grows rapidly, empowered by the strange magic of the place. Rivers and canyons make certain routes impassable, while bogs and swamps threaten the weak with poisons and diseases. Perhaps the most menacing natural defense of Strangehollow is the mists. These banks of dense fog move willy-nilly through the landscape, enveloping the unwary. Such mists have been known to peel flesh from bones, rot wood and metal, or cause hallucinations, among other things.
Needless to say, such a place is a magnet for the brave and the foolish. Strangehollow has many rare and unique resources in abundance, from the skins of strange creatures to the extracts of rare plants. The wood of certain trees is prized by artisans, as are the fruits and flowers that don’t grow anywhere else. Often, would-be heroes defy reason and chase after loved ones who have been lost in Strangehollow, or at the behest of others who have lost kin to it. On rare occasions, the adventurous travel into Strangehollow because they are called to do so. Something in this wilderness summons them to claim power or wealth, or something less tangible.