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Vargo is a world of mostly water with a single large continent and numerous island chains spread across the planet. Scientists speculate that Vargo wasn't always so covered by ocean: that at some point in the distant past there was far more land on the planet. The rarity of a "waterworld" seems to lend weight to this theory, but research has yet to prove anything conclusive.
Deathnettle is a waxy-skinned, thorny Vargen plant that grows in the southern reaches of the desert. The sap of the plant, in pure form, is a deadly toxin: it interferes with the function of nerves, eventually leading to paralysis and death. In diluted form, the toxin does not kill, but instead leaves the victim's mind dazed and extremely vulnerable to suggestion.
There is no need for an antidote for the diluted form of the drug: it will eventually be flushed out of the victim's bloodstream. When administered in pure form, the only way to counter Deathnettle is with a stimulant powerful enough to sustain respiration and heartbeat until the toxins are metabolized.
A fat river-dwelling fish about three feet long, whiskered, part scavenger and part predator. It is almost catfish-like, aside from the fact that it glows in the dark. Lanternfish only come out at night, and use their natural bioluminescence to attract other, smaller fish which the prey upon. Lanternfish are quite tasty when sauteed in butter with chives and pepper, and many a Vargen fisherman stays up into the wee hours of the night to try his luck at catching one.
This small crustacean looks like a mad cross between a lobster and a crab, wide at the front, where a large, sharp pair of claws attach at the end of the front legs, and tapering in back to a segmented tail. It scuttles about on eight legs, and its eyes are on stalks. Snappers are quite a delicacy, and command a high price in Vargen fish markets.
In the high valleys of the island continent's central range dwell a native breed of sheep sometimes called 'ramhorns' for the massive, curling horns that adorn their skulls. In summertime their thick, wooly coats are reddish-brown, but in winter they turn white as snow. Their lower legs are devoid of hair, instead having a scaly hide remiscent of a lizard's skin to protect them from bruising or abrasions as they negotiate rocky mountain trails no human would find passable. The sheep stand five feet high at the shoulder, and have tri-cloven hooves which leave a track almost like a fleur-de-lis.
A small, fox-like predator, dainty of limb, with large triangular ears and glittering golden eyes. In warm weather its coat is reddish-brown with black stripes running along its flanks. In winter the strips remain, but the rest of its coat turns white for camouflage in snow.
When the first human colonists arrived on Vargo, they soon found that they were not alone there. An indigenous sentient species calling itself the Pakti was quite well established on the planet, although relatively few in numbers owing to the hunter-gatherer subsistence methods by which they lived. The Pakti are reptilian, evolved from aquatic lizards that are equally at home on land and in the water. However, owing to their amphibious nature they must reproduce near water in which to lay their eggs, and are also cold-blooded, thus limiting their range to the warmer temperate and tropical regions of the planet.
A fierce conflict ensued between the human settlers and the Pakti, resulting in loss of life on both sides. The primary advantage the lizards had was their chameleonic ability, which allowed them to evade detection. Superior technology gave humanity the edge over the stone-aged Pakti, however, and slowly the reptiles were driven back--especially as humans methodically destroyed the spawning pools where their hatchlings developed. By the end of the Diasporan era, the Pakti were believed to be extinct. However, when the Vau arrived and claimed that human expansion was threatening the Pakti, it was clear that some had survived. They live in small communities far from the centers of human habitation, most notibly, in the Chain of Fire Islands.
Vargo's native deer are shy, fleet-footed animals that prefer to avoid humanity whenever possible. Creatures of the deep woods, they eat grasses and the leaves of shrubs, and move in small herds during the mating season. The rest of the year they travel alone or in groups of two or three. Their hides are beige, dappled with dark spots, and bucks and does alike have antlers, althougs the males' are larger and branch into three spikes at the end. The trideer are so named for their three-part hoof, which leaves a distintive track.
There are many who regard these pseudo-reptilian predators as mythical, for few people ever venture into the high mountain fastnesses where they are said to dwell. Scaly, lizard-like, yet warm-blooded, rock dragons grow upwards of ten meters in length, and are thought to subsist on the mountain sheep and goats that inhabit the central ranges of the island continent of Vargo. If these creatures do exist, they are no doubt solitary, reclusive beasts, probably best left to their own devices.
These hardy goats, sometimes called 'Seaver's Goats,' are believed to have been brought to Vargo by the first colonists, and somehow escaped into the wild where they spread quickly across the island continent. Stocky, bandy-legged, and short horns with gray-brown coats, they are able to survive in wildernesses that other creatures shun, and subsist on fodder that would turn most herbivores' stomachs. The flesh of the goats themselves, though tough, is quite palatable, and poor hunters and trappers often supplement their diets with the creatures.
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