A vast and mysterious jungle, the Savage Lands attracted many prospective explorers, all eager to discover what lay hidden within its depths. Adventurers who entered would inevitably disappear, their bones abandoned amongst the undergrowth; a legacy of the lost. Occasionally, rumours would surface of some brave adventurer who had re-emerged, telling tall tales of horrific beasts and hidden wonders. Many stepped forward to explore the jungle, and yet no one could survive long enough to bring back information on what lay within.
No one, that is, until Theodore Hamilton Scarborough. A researcher who sought to uncover the jungle's secrets, he amassed a large team of mercenaries and explorers, and led the first successful expedition into the Savage Lands. Of the original twenty-four team members, only five would emerge alive. Scarborough wrote at length about his experiences, an account that would soon be published as the first known information on the fauna and flora of the Savage Lands.
Scarborough's notes speak at length of the toxic and poisonous plants that lay within the jungle, and the effects that they had upon the people he worked with. Whether it was a team member who decided to try their hand at jungle cuisine, or one man who merely touched a fungus with his hand, he relays their fate with horrifying detail. Convulsing on the ground; foaming at the mouth; eyes rolling back into their skulls as blood seeps from every pore; screaming as they writhe in agony; all of these and more numbered amongst Scarborough's descriptions, from mad, illogical ramblings to vomiting up one's own intestines.
However, not all of the plants found within the Savage Lands seem to have such disastrous side-effects. Scarborough hints at the existence of a small number of beneficial and restorative species from the jungle's depths, though his work provides only one account of such a plant.
The bestiary notes from Scarborough's work detail an even more horrifying reality. From great, scaled beasts with dripping fangs, to creatures with crystalline skin and serrated limbs, the creatures in the Savage Lands seem to be nothing short of lethal. Elite predators and monstrous beasts populate the jungle, striking down their prey with deadly accuracy, tearing apart their prey to glean every last scrap of muscle and marrow; their gaping maws drip with blood, beady eyes gleaming in the dark as they devour the raw flesh of their prey. In the shadows behind them, small scavengers lurk, waiting for the opportunity to pick apart the remains for scraps of muscle and marrow.
Primal, aggressive, and deadly, the creatures of the Savage Lands possess traits that make them deadly to anything that crosses their path. It is these exact traits that were the basis for Scarborough's extensive research.
On one of his expeditions, Scarborough and his crew were taking an opportunity to rest when a group of feral humans ambushed them just before dawn. This was the first recorded encounter with hecklers, thus named by Scarborough for their quick and quiet attacks.
"It is my experience that hecklers rarely seek true confrontation. Like tiny birds, they flit in, snatch what they desire, and disappear just as quickly as they had arrived. Despite my best efforts, I have failed to encounter many hecklers, only catching glimpses on the occasion that they ambush my crew."
Of course, this could not begin to compare to Scarborough's next encounter with a sentient creature inside the jungle. On the very same expedition, his campsite was once again ambushed, yet this time the experience was markedly different.
"A pack of great, hulking beasts came charging out of the trees. They were one and again the size of my largest man, with thick hides and beady red eyes. I barely had time to escape with my life. I witnessed several of the beasts hunched over one of my men, tearing open his flesh with their bare hands, entrails hanging from their gaping maws. While I fled, their screams followed me, echoing through the trees."
After this encounter, Scarborough managed to escape the jungle alive, and soon returned on another expedition. In later years, he returned home to pursue his research, and conduct experiments based around his time in the Savage Lands. It is these experiments that led to the creation of the invalesco serum, and the work that would make him famous across all of Rathe.
These massive beasts are vicious, bloodthirsty, and incredibly hostile. Brutes are deeply territorial, and one of the deadliest creatures within the Savage Lands. They tower over all humans, almost double the height of the average man, with the muscle mass to match. Their immense strength and violent natures make them incredibly dangerous opponents.
While sentient, they are slow and unintelligent, relying mainly on strength and brute force to decimate their prey. They often collect trophies from their fallen prey; from small skulls tied onto their armour, to locks of hair or ears attached to a belt, or armour decorated with hides and fur.
Perhaps hecklers were once human, lost within the jungles long ago. Left to fend for themselves in an unforgiving landscape, they left behind their humanity in order to survive.
Hecklers are ruthless, feral and violent, attacking anything that crosses their path. They travel in small groups, wearing makeshift armour made from leather and furs. Groups of hecklers have been known to ambush travelling parties, raiding their corpses for anything useful, taking weapons, tools, food, or other supplies.