The Lost Province: What You Know
Every character can be assumed to know the following about the Lost Province, without any need to make Knowledge (local), Knowledge (history), or Knowledge (nature) skill checks.
The lands that would later become the Lost Province have long been sparsely settled, but Imperial efforts to explore and tame the region, in preparation for adding it to the Empire as its ninth province, did not begin in earnest until IY 385, approximately 350 years ago. The borders of the newly-named Muyao, the Trade Province, were defined in IY 415, and attempts were made to establish routes for trade and exploration through the neighbouring regions of the Thunderhead and the Forest of Chembu, though these met with limited success.
The advent of the succession crisis brought further settlement and expansion of the Trade Province to a halt; as the Empire's newest and furthest-flung province, none of the squabbling factions wished to spare the resources for its upkeep, instead turning their attentions inward. Repeated monstrous incursions from the Thunderhead, coupled with an utter lack of Imperial support, drove the settlers of the Trade Province back to the safer lands of the Far Province, and by the second year of the Regency, in IY 442, the region had been all but abandoned, earning itself the nickname Lost Province, which has endured ever since.
There have been three major attempts to reclaim the lands of the Lost Province, most recently in IY 681, but all have failed; records of exactly why these expeditions faltered are scarce, but most of the troubles are attributed to poor leadership, inadequate backing, and tenacious, monstrous squatters in the ruins of abandoned settlements. Small parties of hunters, trappers, and adventurers seem to fare better, picking at the less dangerous borderlands of the region.
The southern and eastern reaches of the Lost Province are a patchwork of tangled forests, rolling hills, and fertile plains – a haven for bandits and barbaric creatures, but also a land with much potential, if it can be claimed and settled. Towards the centre of the region, the woods give way to a swathe of noxious, miasmal swamp. In the north, the forest grows steadily thicker until it gives way to the dense jungles of the Forest of Chembu. In the west, rocky hills and arid wastelands lie in the shadows of the Thunderhead; a mountainous spur juts into the lowlands, separating this near-desert from the more verdant regions to the north and marking the north-western extent of the Lost Province.
Rivers of the Lost Province
The Lost Province is criss-crossed by countless streams and lesser rivers, but three major waterways are known to wind their courses through the region.
Bitter Water: This river cascades down from the Thunderhead towards the southern end of the range's border with the Lost Province. Its waters are generally sluggish, tracing a slow arc across the western Lost Province before its course leads into the Forest of Chembu. It averages 400 feet across and 100 feet deep.
Cheondung River: Fast-flowing and flood-prone, the Cheondung River cuts its rambling course across the northern Lost Province. Its source is the Veiled Lake, itself fed by several smaller streams and rivers flowing south from the Forest of Chembu. It averages 200 feet across and 80 feet deep, but its sheer ferocity, and the presence of several sets of rapids and small waterfalls along its length, make it unsuitable as a trade route.
Gaur River: This river flows from the Ti Shan Mountains across the Far Province before entering the Lost Province just north of Zhidon Crossing. From there, it meanders through the south-eastern Lost Province and flows east into Malkapur. It lively waters average 120 feet across and 40 feet deep.
The Lost Province is bordered to the south by Shuyan, the Far Province of the Phoenix Empire, and to the east by the land of Malkapur; these lands are already explored, claimed, and, to some extent, settled. To the north lie the dense jungles of the Forest of Chembu; to the west, rise the storm-shrouded mountains of the Thunderhead. Each of these wilderness regions presents a barrier to exploration and expansion in that direction. The nearest major city is Kwotan, the provincial capital of Shuyan; characters travelling to Kwotan to buy, sell, hire, or research can, if travelling on foot, assume a two-week round trip.
There are no permanent settlements aligned with the Empire anywhere in the Lost Province. Hunters, trappers, and outlaws alike are known to set up temporary camps, typically within a day or two's travel of settled lands. Unaligned freeholds, ranging in size from several dozen hardy souls to a few hundred, are believed to be scattered throughout the Lost Province, but no recent news about these settlements is available. Any hermit or outlaw seeking to make a home in the Lost Province must be either clever enough to avoid notice, or fierce enough to fight off the local monsters, which are known to include goblins, lizardfolk, and ogres.
Wild dogs and bush pigs abound in the Lost Province, most likely the descendants of domesticated animals brought by settlers and abandoned in their retreat. Lizards of different types and sizes make their homes in its forests, especially close to rivers; other dangerous woodland denizens include leopards, gorillas, giant mantises, and ferocious, red-furred baboons. The waterways of the Lost Province have a reputation for danger; river drakes and giant varieties of dangerous creatures – leeches, moray eels, and water bugs – are said to make their dens and hunting grounds there. Less inherently aggressive but no less dangerous are the various megafauna known to roam here, including the baluchitherium, great aurochs, and giant ground sloth.