Right after a lovely week in the Forest of Dean I’ve come back full of thoughts on castles, vineyards, geography, flora and fauna. I’m going to concentrate on a brief further consideration of geography and how that feeds into flora and fauna.
First up is a very rough holiday night sketch of what the valley will look like. To give an idea of the scale there has to be a couple of thousand feet between the top of the water-wheel falls and the continuation of the canal. The ground scale isn’t to the same scale it’s only an idea of the shape of the valley.
For influences on the landscape the water falls are probably shaped by recollections of seeing the angel falls on telly. The actual feel of the landscape in the valley is largely shaped by memories of a long minbus trip in Turkey to Ephesus which we passed through some very striking foothills (which I suspect would be mountains in the UK) and some an area of vertical rock formations. At the time I remember remarking to the wife the sparse dry hills were striking enough to be in a Lord of the Rings type epic. They were very spaghetti western but the terrain was more rugged.
WATER IN THE VALLEY
I’m thinking when the plateau drops off the difference in air pressure leads to a lot of rain falls. In addition to the canal this will irrigate the valley which means in the foothills they there will be great grazing for the ranches – however their will be associated dangers such as rockfalls,flashfloods, predators, bandits etc; The none cliff facing faces of the mountain will be more dry. I did think that the underlying rock of the valley could be permable so a lot of water is lost to underground streams the canal and it’s irrigation off shoots being lined with imperable rock. The underground water table will also mean oasis and waterholes to be fought over between communities and valuable stop off points for VC and legitimate caravans.
I suspect water will form part of the Valley people’s religion but perhaps I’m just feeling very Dune…
The Cliff faces I see being stepped and rich in ferns, mosses and lichens. Some of lichens and mosses might have evolved to exist in the underground watercourses.
I like the idea of ferns generally so lets say they continue to be the predominant vegetation in the irrigated areas of the foothills and down the valleys.
In dryer areas plants will form into two types. One will be deep routed plants that can tap into the underground watercourses. The other cacti water preserving plants. All will be tough grazing. I don’t know much about this topic but think it might merit more research.
Along the irrigated areas there will be subsitence farming of vegetables, olives (the oil will be widely used for washing as well as diet,) and fruits. There wil also be vineyards. However now having a much better understanding of the difficulties of vine growing from a visit to the Three Choirs Winery, Newent, Gloucestershire (I strongly recommend resturant is good too if dear, wines lovely too,) I think any winegraowing is in the form of a status product of the rich. Therefore ranchers and city elites will like to brag of their vineyard and get vintiers to make them wine which they will produce as a status item when entertaining. Daily drinking wine and beer and associated spiritis are imported from the north with ciders and meads come from the south. (Cider production might be spreading but it might be looked down on as a working class drunkards drink.)
A visit to the International Bird of Prey Centre, Newent, Gloucestershire (again, go!) I have a new appreciation of raptors.
In particaulr I love the tiny, cheeky North American Burrowing Owl and it’s going to be a feature of the valley. Porbably co-existing with meerkats. But enough of random ranting let’s get systematic.
The valley has five micro-environements:
1) The Cliffs
2) The moist cliffside foothills
3)Dry foothills and rock formations
4)the arid plain
5) the cultivated irrigated area
Obviously there will be migration from species from one micro-environments to the other. The odd cow will wonder off and end up being griffin or mountain lion fodder, the odd hill predator will end up feeding frenzying on farm land be taken out. I’ve focused on the more visable species (not insects.)
CLIFFS I like the idea of the mountain baboons that exist in Ethipoia being parts of this area. They’re mainly vegetarian and great climbers. There is also potential to upgrade them to sentient if you want a broader span of player characters. Mountain goats, vultures, eagles and smalled raptors, insect eating seed feeding birds, lemming like grazing rodents will aslo feature part of the wildlife here.
WET HILLS A lot of overlap with the cliffs. Weak Baboon troops and goat herds will feed here but have to share the area with local antelope/deer, they’ll be observed by small population of meerkats (and associated burrowing owls.) Waterhogs will also be about. Feeding on these delights will be cliff based raptors, mountain lions, jekylls/hyenas and the odd more unusual creature (I’m thinking cliff nesting Griffons who feed on hill creatures.) I think badgers also mught be about if only so the valley people can enjoy baboon/badger bouts as one of their bloodsports (apologies to gossip mail Popbitch.)
Man impinges on this area through Cattle migrations as well as homesteaders settling the area with sheep.
DRY HILLS more sparse, so the meercats, burrowing owls share it with small herbarvoires such as amradillos etc; The dry areas also provide a niche which reptiles can flourish so various lizards, predatory snakes will feature. Man will have his livestock do some grazing here but it’s hard going.
DRY PLAIN even more sparse than the hills – not quite deserts but not far off it. The dry plains will often form a barrier between the cvilised area and the hills. there will be waterholes and oasis each a micro-environment on it’s own shaped by the migratory species which ended up there. Before man it’s likely herbavoires migrated by these waterholes but such natural migration has been curtailed by centuries of cultivation.
CULITVATED AREA This has been shaped by man. Cattle, sheep, rabbits, chicken & pidgeons as meat stock predominate. Cats, Dogs (need think dog breeds) and falcons as hunting beasts are present. Of course various insects, lizards, rats and other vermin hang around as well as other specieis which had hide under the radar and pick rich pickings such as snakes, badgers and buzzards. Proximity to the canal will also result in crocadile predation on livestock and trespass by Hippos.
My word that was quite a bit of rnadom musings. More anon – take care.