WHAT IS THE WELL?
The Well is an extra-dimensional pocket universe. It was created an very long time ago by a party (or parties) unknown and for equally unknown purposes. At best guess, the Well is meant to be a collection area for “castoffs” from various related dimensions. Thus it’s both physically and literally, a well. Other guesses for the purpose of the Well include: it’s a huge zoo, it’s some sort of experiment in evolution and/or genetics, it’s an abandoned vacation spot gone bad, and so on.
Physically, the Well is a flattened sphere, roughly 1,500 miles in diameter (or as big as the plot requires). As it’s a closed universe, one can’t escape the Well simply by traveling in one direction for a long enough and far enough. For example, if you build a plane and try to fly up and out of the Well, eventually you’ll find yourself flying down back into the Well. If you try and go out through the mountains, you’ll eventually come out of the mountains in another part of the Well, and so on.
Seen from above, the Well is divided into a series of rings, or tiers, separated by escarpments of varying steepness. The rings are as follows: Mountains, Foothills, Uplands, Forests, Jungles, Plains, Shore, and the Ring Ocean. Within the Well, the landscape has a vertical up-down orientation, meaning there’s a “top” and “bottom” to the universe. Thus, seen from the side, the Well is roughly half full of land, water, rock, and so on. Sunlight is provided by a mobile “sun,” a glowing ball of heat and light that travels across the sky. It enters the Well (and exits) through valleys in the the Mountain Ring. Where it goes at night is unknown.
MOUNTAINS: The outermost ring consists of several over-lapping mountain ranges that completely surround the Well. Seen from the air, the Mountain Ring would remind one of the Himalayas, as numerous peaks reach 25,000 feet or better. There’s little to no life in the Mountain Ring, since snow and ice are there year around. Only where the sun rises and sets are there warm valleys, with running water and thick growths of vegetation. Passage through the Mountain Ring is virtually impossible due to the lack of shelter, food, warmth, or water.
FOOTHILLS: The next ring is made up of the “foothills.” This is a mix of low hills, ridges, minor mountains, valleys, crevices, and so on. This is about as far up and out you can get and still expect to find living things. The area is fairly cold year-around, except near the valleys of sunrise and sunset, and has little to no trees, just extensive scrub, mosses, lichens, and other hardy plants. There is plenty of wildlife, with most of it small rodents and the like. People live up here as well, such as ogres and gnomes (see the section on People).
UPLANDS: The Mountains, Foothills, and Uplands form one broad ring, with no clear separations (unlike the escarpment-lines that break up the other rings). The Uplands are the Well’s tundra. Cool to cold, often windswept, with some hardy tree growth of the evergreen variety. There are large fields of grass, along with many streams and small lakes. Most of the Well’s rivers start here. Much of it is mountain prairie in appearance and very beautiful from a scenic standpoint. The animal life is larger, and this is where the first real World Of Kong animals can appear (creatures from the “Uplands” naturally—see Fauna below).
FORESTS: Reminiscent of North American old growth forests, the Forest ring ranges from conifers on the Upland side to deciduous trees on Jungle side. This is one of the widest rings and one of the most populated, with both people and animals. The trees here grow to immense heights, especially on the Upland side where one can find huge stands of sequoia and redwood (or the equivalent). The area is also fairly wet, and some sections are similar to the Olympic rain forests of Washington State. However, the ring isn’t fully forested, and there are plenty of open meadows, lakes, rivers, canyons, and the like.
JUNGLE: This belt is lush in its plant life. It gets a lot of rain from the Ring Ocean, and presents some of the thickest and toughest terrain in the Well. Curiously, the whole ring is covered in ruins, some of which are extremely old. Many the ruins don’t appear to have been made by humans, either. The animal life here is some of the most dangerous in the ring, and includes many of the large dinosaurs and similar creatures from World Of Kong and possibly After Man. Also, swamps, lakes, and rivers are common, and most are teaming with fish, amphibians, and other creatures. This is where the bulk of the reptile men make their home.
PLAINS: Equal in many ways to the American prairie or African grasslands, the plains are very temperate, since you get a lot of winds off of the Ring Ocean. Heavily populated with people, with most of the major cities and the like located along rivers and the Ring Ocean shore. The beaches see the greatest amount of extra-dimensional flotsam and jetsam, with wreckage and dead animals (usually huge fish) washing up rather often.
SHORE: The edge of the Ring Ocean is a mix of wide sandy beaches and rocky shorelines. There are plenty of shellfish and crustaceans, some of which can get rather large. Once again, there are more World Of Kong predators lurking along the shore.
THE RING OCEAN: The Ring Ocean is very wide, roughly 500 miles across, with a large island in the center. The island is surrounded by smaller, jagged points of rock, known as “The Teeth.” The central island is dominated by a twisted spire of rock, maybe 3-5,000 feet high. This is the citadel of Snakemen and where all of their technology is kept. This is also where the breeding pens, growth vats, and genetics labs (used to create the chimera) are located. In addition, this is the location of the dimensional gate, and should be the focus of the PCs attempts to escape and/or end the tyranny of the Snakemen.
The Ocean itself is shallow, with a max depth of around 500-600 feet in most places, and dotted with numerous islands of varying sizes (some quite large). Near the Teeth and the central spire there are deep trenches that go down several miles. Sea life is prevalent, the water is warm, and there are sea monsters—huge fish, primitive snake-like whales, and other things.
ESCARPMENTS: The Well, as a rule, slopes down to the sea. The slope isn’t obvious for the most part, but the ground does gradually drop down the further away from the Mountain Ring you get. The Escarpments are where the drop is far more pronounced. There are three Escarpments in total, with two minor ones and one major one. The minor Escarpments are between the Uplands and the Forests, and the Jungle and the Plains. These are long and gentle slopes, cut by many small gullies and narrow canyons. The major Escarpment is between the Forest and the Jungle—this is a very steep drop in most places, treacherous and the haunt of many dangerous animals. The Forest to Jungle Escarpment also has large fissures and chasms cutting through it—these serve as the “underworld” for the Well, and populated by the Abyssal Chasm creatures from World Of Kong. People do not want to descend into these, and the idea of sacrifices being tossed in should be used.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
The Well is nigh on to a paradise from a climatic point of view. Each of the rings has fairly well-defined climate and there are little to no weather extremes within a ring (traveling from one ring to another is a different story). In addition, the weather is constant year around. Since the sun describes the same path each and every day, there are no seasons and each ring pretty much stays the same year around.
The winds blow down from the Mountain Ring and spiral into the Ring Ocean. The cool air from the mountains meets the warmer air over the water and created large cloud formations and a lot of rain, most of which falls in the Jungle Ring. Serious storms are very rare, and such things as hurricanes, tornadoes, and typhoons are virtually unknown. However, small, brief, thunderstorms are quite common and occur mostly along the borders of the Jungle Ring. This makes the Jungle Ring the wettest of all the Rings, and also the source of many rivers and streams.
As said, severe storms are rare, at least on the Ring Ocean. However, it’s not unknown for snowstorms to occasionally sweep down from the Mountain Ring and blanket the Foothills and Uplands with a layer of snow. In addition, the Forest Ring sees a lot of rain fall due to its proximity to the Mountain Ring. Over all, the Well is wetter than most areas on Earth. This has lead to the thick growth of plant life, which helps explain the size and quantities of the animal inhabitants.