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River of Death and the Shadowlands

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  • River of Death and the Shadowlands

    It was never quite clear to me how one gets to the River of Death (and then to Stygia, the Sunless Seas/Tempest, and even farther, to the Far Shores) coming from the Shadowlands, without using a Nihil (which actually connects to the Tempest) or a Stygian Tempest Portal (which seems to be rare, and, again, connects to the Tempest).

    I know the River of Death is touched by the Tempest, both at its length and at its delta where the Island of Sorrows is. But where does the River touch the Shadowlands? At which point the Shadowlands, which corresponds to real places, becomes the River of Death/the Tempest (formerly the Darkness), which has no corresponding place in the Skinlands?

    I was hoping that Wraith 20th would solve these mysteries, but or I have missed something from the book, or this is still a major issue in the setting geography.

  • #2
    Well the River of Death doesn't just "connect" to the Tempest. It's a Byway in the Tempest. So Nihils can and do go there directly.

    That said, I've house ruled that traveling down any river in the Shadowlands within the Dark Kingdom of Iron's territory can eventually blur into the Styx.


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    • #3
      Technically all of the byways are in the Tempest, so Nihils and Portals that open onto one are still technically connecting to the Tempest.

      Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post
      Well the River of Death doesn't just "connect" to the Tempest. It's a Byway in the Tempest. So Nihils can and do go there directly.

      That said, I've house ruled that traveling down any river in the Shadowlands within the Dark Kingdom of Iron's territory can eventually blur into the Styx.
      That's my house rule as well. It makes sense for certain byways to have a Shadowlands presence.


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      • #4
        [Stygia is] at the mouth of the River of Death, which flows through much of the Dark Kingdom of Iron (50)

        Tributaries of the River of Death flow through the Shadowlands in whatever direction they need to, and not always consistently at that — river sections that reverse their flow are commonplace. They take on more consistent directions as they converge. The main channel of the river traces a continental scale arc like the shape of a sickle head — much like that of Stygia itself — starting at a northwest point, curving east and south, and finally flowing west as it empties out into the sea. (50)
        This seems to be all we have to go on. I don't really understand what the compass directions mean, but my best guess is that "northwest" and "east" refer to the compass directions that would exist if the Underworld were drawn up as a 2-D map similar to what you get if you Google "Greek Underworld map". I can't figure it any other way: the passage is telling us how to draw the map, but a drawn map doesn't track with the metaphysics of the Underworld, just as a flat map projection of the Earth doesn't track with the proportions of land and sea masses on a globe.

        You're right that the writers don't spell out what the interface is between the Shadowlands and the River of Death. The closest we get is these "tributaries", which flow through the Shadowlands in whatever direction they want to. I agree with glamourweaver that the best interpretation is that if you travel down a Shadowlands river of any kind and intend to reach Stygia, you can find the main channel of the Styx. But since the Styx has no Quick counterpart, once you reach it, you're somehow on your way to Stygia... without passing through a nihil.

        Jeez. This is headache-inducing. I say, make the Styx a special case, by dint of it being the most famous byway: following it to Stygia can bring you into the Tempest without the need to enter a noticeable Nihil. I think it'd be interesting to have some kind of rapids or waterfall situation represent the boundary between the Shadowlands and the Tempest for those boat-people who are unlucky in their travels. Someone who's made the trip several times could find a gentler transition.

        Here's a question: to find the River Styx, do you have to reach it via once-extant rivers that have since dried up? Rivers change their courses over time, after all, or break through their own banks and leave former "bends" stranded and doomed to drying out. Maybe these abandoned bends and straights become ghost tributaries that lead to the Styx.

        Wish the writers would have worked on this part a bit more...

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        • #5
          i read something a few days ago in sea of shadows stating that each of the necropoli have a portal to a byway (dont remember if it was styx specifically) that is guarded by whatever faction controls the necropolus and can be closed in case of maelstrom.

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