At first glance, the Shadow Marches are little more than a great expanse of marshes and wetlands. The touch of civilization is felt only barely here, and in its place, the swampy wilds are home to fearsome creatures, small isolated communities, and borderline barbaric tribes. But beneath the veneer of savagery lies a heart of ancient tradition untouched by the outside world, and a wealth of natural treasures to be discovered.
- Swampy homeland of tribal orcs and remote human clans, nearly untouched by the rest of Khorvaire
- Dangerous, hard to navigate for outsiders
- Rich in dragonshards and other natural resources
- Power base of House Tharashk
For thousands of years, tribes of orcs have lived in Shadow Marches, and their lifestyle has not changed much over time. About 1,500 years ago, humans leaving Sarlona landed on the western shore of the Shadow Marches, and over the centuries have come to be as much a part of the Marches as the orcs. The two races have since adapted to living alongside one another, to the point that many half-orcs in Khorvaire have their distant origins in the Shadow Marches.
Due to its remoteness and shielding by Droaam, the Shadow Marches have been left untouched by the majority of important events to its east. It remained isolated and all but unknown until House Sivis discovered it on a fact-finding expedition for dragonshards, and attempted excavation before being violently driven out by the clans of the Marches. Not long after, some tribal humans developed the Mark of Finding and united to form House Tharashk. They established the now-capital of Zarash’ak, and began exporting and selling dragonshards themselves.
Culture & Society
The Shadow Marches are not recognized as a nation, either by the Treaty of Thronehold or by common opinion. The people who live there are typically unwelcoming to outsiders, though there are some exceptions. Most of the Marches’ population is made up of orcs living in highly territorial tribal societies, with some human clans — descendants of Sarlonan migrants — mixed in as well. The rest is an amalgam of other races that are primarily established around the edge. These other races are typically more welcoming to the outside world than the inland tribes, which is due to their association with House Tharashk and other prospecting groups.
Despite the occasional points of civilization and larger towns, all built on stilts to keep them above the frequently-changing water levels of the swamp, the Shadow Marches are easily the wildest region of Khorvaire and are all but lawless. The exception is Zarash’ak, the City of Stilts, which is both the “capital” of the Marches and the official base of House Tharashk’s operations. The House keeps a tight watch on the city, as they must ensure it runs well for the sake of their business.
The Shadow Marches are widely considered “uncivilized,” and there are not many well-developed industries here. House Tharashk and cooperating clans export large amounts of dragonshards and herbs, including many narcotics, though these are not usually distributed by Tharashk.