Mwangi Expanse – Unexplored Jungle Wilderness
Mwangi Expanse at a glance:
- Alignment: N
- Capital: None
- Notable Settlements: Bloodcove (5,281), Jaha (5,600), Kibwe (3,800), Mzali (36,900), Nantambu (14,500), Osibu (9,800), Ruins of Kho (unknown), Senghor (26,430), Usaro (8,790)
- Ruler: None
- Government: Countless tribal strongmen, isolated utopian enclaves, lost kingdoms, bizarre cults, unorganized nomad bands, and one enraged gorilla king
- Languages: Polyglot, regional dialects
- Religion: Shamanism, Ancestor Worship, Angazhan (demon lord of beasts), Gozreh
Some of the oldest human ruins in the world lay scattered throughout the interior jungles of Garund, cracked through with powerful roots and rubbed smooth by the passing of millennia. The reclusive tribal inhabitants from whom the forests and wildlands take their name trace their heritage to forgotten kingdoms of no little advancement, but they have fallen far since the days of their zenith, and their glorious past remains a mystery not just to the outside world, but also to themselves.
No accurate maps of Garund’s interior exist, and the Mwangi human, elf, lizardfolk, and less-recognizable tribes of the expanse seldom declare formal borders. Some nomadic groups wander the jungles and valleys without ever settling anywhere for long. Several locales within the trackless wild attract potent malevolent spirits, sentient plant colonies, juju zombie cults, orsimilar hazards, making them shunned by right-thinking natives and explorers alike. Chelaxian explorers first penetrated the Mwangi Expanse during the reign of the expansionist Prince Haliad I, establishing a colony at Sargava that still exists (if precariously) to this day. Centuries earlier, the insidious Aspis Consortium established a beachhead at a scurvy port known as Bloodcove at the mouth of the powerful Vanji River, from whence its meticulous agents penetrated and exploited the near-limitless exotic resources of the vast Mwangi interior.
The so-called Fever Sea west of Garund was quieter in those days. Outcast Mwangi and exiled pirate lords managed a mostly bloodless coexistence in the Shackle Isles, but had not yet developed into a serious naval threat. The vast wealth suddenly traveling north from Bloodcove, Senghor, and Eleder, however, attracted more and more pirates, and the coming of the Eye of Abendego in the first weeks of the Age of Lost Omens largely cut off the colonization effort from the rest of the world. Stories of those early explorers and colonists filter north to the ears of opportunistic merchants, excitement-starved treasure-seekers, and wily Pathfinders. The tales speak of lost cities and gorilla kings, of religions grown ancient by the time the Starstone fell, and of riches undreamed of by the most fecund minds of the civilized north.
Many miles south of Jaha spreads the treacherous Lake Ocota, home to swift, reptilian-toothed flightless birds and mysterious aquatic beasts from antediluvian times. These longnecked predators occasionally range the numerous rivers of the Expanse, stretching a head full of needle teeth upon muscular serpentine necks to snatch prey from raft, dock, and riverbank. A monolithic ruined city called Usaro, on the southern coast of the lake, is the seat of the mighty Silverback King, the feral monarch of a society of coldly intelligent, bloodthirsty apes known as the Spawn of Angazhan. King Ruthazek, himself the latest in a long line of awakened gorilla-gods, is the most honored earthbound servant of the demon lord of beasts and a major threat to all humans in the Expanse.
The Silverback King’s treasure vaults contain priceless riches plundered from defeated tribes and enemies, but surely the greatest riches hidden in the Expanse are found in the fabled Ruins of Kho, a crashed flying city of the Shory civilization that ranged Golarion in the Age of Destiny. Nearly all expeditions to the ruins — mentioned in several ancient Osiriani texts and visited by at least one early Gebbite adventuring hero — end in tragic failure, and only a few expeditions have returned to tell a tale of vast stretching ramps spanning impossible towers, shattered amphitheaters of green glass, and enormous engines the size of granaries still thrumming with ancient energy. Without exception, even the most successful plunderers of Kho meet with unforeseen bad luck. Most of them manage to die from it after a few years of treading carefully. Such is the legend of Shory artifice, however, that not even certain death deters the desperate from trying to uncover it.
At the southwest edge of the jungle lies Mzali, oldest of the ruined cities of the Mwangi Expanse and the most heavily populated by far. About a century ago, the population of the great overgrown city exploded when pilgrims from all over the Expanse came to see for themselves a bizarre phenomenon.
The shamans of a strange religion both enticingly new and unthinkably old produced the mummified remains of Walkena, a boy prince of the near-mythical original Mwangi society. Within the last 30 years, the manikin mummy sprung to cruel life, issuing orders to his prosperous cult that whipped his followers into rage against the colonists of Sargava and all outside influences in the Expanse, and open warfare has been the rule ever since.
Countless tribes of so-called wild elves live comparatively primitive existences, hunting and gathering for their sustenance. Though their origins are just as shrouded in mystery as all elves, their existence does not seem to have changed significantly in millennia – even during the Age of Darkness, when the majority of elves abandoned the planet to its fate, these elves continued to forage and eke out a survival within the trackless jungles and mountains. The best known of these tribes is the Ekujae, which consists of numerous interrelated clans and villages across the northern reaches of the Mwangi Expanse. Fierce and barbaric – at least as defined by those outsiders who regularly attempt to enslave them – the Ekujae are a superstitious group, and those who visit them must be careful to avoid violating clan taboos. That said, they are a virtuous, honorable people, and see themselves as warriors left behind by some ancient and forgotten civilization in order to combat the Darkness, which they believe will one day come again to threaten Golarion.
While the mighty Ruthazek, Silverback King of Usaro, might claim the fall of his own footsteps the center of all power in Mwangi, the territory called the Mwangi Expanse has no traditional “capital.” The Mwangi Expanse has no unifying government, states, or even borders — it is a wild, uncharted, shifting place composed of wandering tribal bands, lone mystics, and despots who rule collapsing cities with sword in hand.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Companion Elves of Golarion