Adventuring in Mires
mire landscape baren

Mires, bogs and fens are all mostly open wetlands. They are dominated by plants that slowly form layers upon layers of decaying vegetation, which in the end turns into peatlands (wetland ecosystems in which waterlogged conditions prevent plant material from fully decomposing; consequently, the production of organic matter exceeds its decomposition, which results in a net accumulation of peat).

Mires can be very difficult to traverse: the decaying plant matter can be treacherous, so heavily travelled mires often have clear paths and timber boardwalks, also known as duckboards, to make travel easier and safer. However, these walkways are tempting locations for ambushes for creatures that can hide underwater, since travelers are forced to move through narrow paths that may come near ponds or cross over surprisingly deep pools.

If the characters are determined to move away from the clear paths, travel will be difficult. The spongy terrain is always considered difficult terrain, and characters must succeed in a DC 10 Constitution saving throw at the end of each hour of travel or gain one level of exhaustion. Characters can use special bog shoes so they can avoid getting stuck in the spongy moss and avoid the saving throw. Locals can often provide such equipment. A character that falls prone in a bog must use all their movement getting up instead of half.

One additional hazard in a mire are the quagmires: a soft boggy area of land that gives way underfoot. In the right conditions, decaying vegetation can float on top of a layer of water, creating a sort of a pit trap in open terrain. The DC for detecting quagmires is 12. Anyone that steps in the quagmire falls into a deep pool of water.

mire landscape baren

Visibility is rarely an issue in a mire, since plants that grow above the thick layers of moss are usually stunted. Hiding in shadows is not a possibly, so creatures that hunt here are either flying creatures, amphibian ambush predators, capable of somehow disregarding the difficult terrain, or lost and very hungry.

Humanoids have many uses for bogs. Peat can be harvested, dried and used for fuel. Berries, mushrooms, herbs and medicinal flowers bloom in the wet, sunny environments. Mires can have a ritual meaning as well. Some cultures bury their criminals in bogs, sometimes while they are still alive.

There are special encounters to consider. At times humans and other civilized humanoids may punish a criminal by sinking them into a bog. Sometimes the criminal is executed beforehand, sometimes the drowning is the execution.

mire with lots of water

One northern culture has a special kind of bronze amphora (container) they use for this exact method of execution. The arms of the criminal are broken, and the criminal is sealed within the amphora, which in turn is placed in a pool in a bog during a dry day. The mouth of the amphora is above the water, and the inside of the amphora remains empty at first, but as it starts to rain, which it often does in these parts, it begins to fill. The criminal then dies either by freezing to death in the frigid water, or the amphora fills completely, drowning the criminal.

These amphoras are often cursed, so that the souls of the criminals will not be able to depart. They may haunt the area near the amphora during the night, appearing as specters, ghosts or wraiths.

Swamp vs Marshes vs Fen vs Mires

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