Awesome climate and terrain: Part 2!

This is part two of a Patreon exclusive! You can read the full article here.

Last week we explored arctic, coastal, desert, forest, and grassland environments. This week, we’ve got a few more:

  • Hill
  • Mountain
  • Swamp
  • Underdark
  • Underwater
  • Urban

Again, I’m interested mainly in five key things:

  • Placement (where is this environment found?)
  • Characteristics (what is it like?)
  • Examples (from our world if possible)
  • Culture and society (and how the environment might influence it)
  • As a fantasy setting: what adventures take place here?

Let’s dive in!

🌄 Hill

As with mountains (see below), hills are more of a landform than a climate or biome, and they can be found at any latitude. As such, it’s a bit of an odd category (see ‘coastal’, above). Arctic hills will be very different to desert hills or forest hills and so on. Because of this, I tend to assume that 5e ‘hills’ are specifically temperate hills—or at least, they are defined by their ‘hilly-ness’ rather than by being cold, warm, forested, or what have you.

Hills occur in two places: either on their own, as part of a ‘rolling’ landscape (like Tuscany), on as foothills on the edge of mountains. They are by definition lower and less steep than mountains and usually covered with some kind of vegetation. As such, they might be farmed (perhaps as vineyards or orchards) or harvested for timber (if forested). Hills are also a likely location for mining, as several resources can be found in hilly areas including coal, clay, and precious metals. Hills may also offer great views of the surrounding area!

As with the ‘coastal’ category, very few 5e monsters are exclusively found in hills. I could only find two: copper dragons and hill giants (the clue’s in the name). Of all the environments on this list, I find them hardest to summarize. They almost seem to be a bit of a middle ground: more than 90 percent of the ‘hill creatures’ in the Monster Manual have challenge ratings in Tiers 1 or 2, and this suggests to me that hills are very much a ‘starter terrain’ for budding adventurers. (Cough, Adventures in Hawk’s Rest, cough.)

That’s it for the preview! Please go to my Patreon (linked below) for the full piece.

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