Canyon of Guthay

“…a massive rift on the edge of the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes.” —p. 5, Dungeon 181

“…a dark and forlorn place riddled with shallow, monster-infested caverns which hold many dangers…” —ibid.

“The last part of the adventure challenges the treasure-laden characters to make the arduous trip across the Alluvial Sand Wastes to the great city of Tyr.” —ibid. This sounds as if the Canyon is on the eastern edge of the Wastes.

“The Canyon of Guthay combines the features of a true canyon and a massive rift. Some immense tectonic disturbance in the dim past caused the floor of the canyon to subside about a hundred feet below the level of the surrounding terrain, while the rocky walls were heaved upward by the same amount. The result is a canyon that is twice as deep as it appears from a distance when one can see only the massive upheaval of bedrock around it. A trail winds down through tumbled boulders to the canyon’s floor, which is a stretch of relatively smooth sand and gravel that varies from 30 to 90 feet wide along its half-mile length. The walls of the canyon are rough and fairly easy to climb, requiring a DC 10 Athletics check. Wagons can be brought down the trail into the canyon, but it’s a difficult, exhausting trek.” —ibid, p. 13

“The elf pointed westward. ‘A path descends into the Canyon of Guthay from both sides,’ he said. ‘It is only three days’ run, but the beasts that live in the bottom have a taste for our kanks.’” —p. 97, The Amber Enchantress. This certainly contradicts the notion that the canyon is a half-mile in length; that would hardly be worth the trouble of building a massive stone bridge over, and the elves (and for that matter Nok’s tribe) would have just gone around. Also, this implies that it stretches from east to west, where it might make more sense for it to stretch north to south. But there could easily be a kink in the road for the purpose of a bridge. Actually, if you look where I’ve placed it on the Near Tyr map, it only needs to be angled slightly south of west to work pretty nicely.

Solutions:

  • It’s not the same canyon; it’s a coincidence of names. However, they do seem to be in the same general region; on the interface of the sandy wastes and the stony barrens, on or near the road from Tyr to Sliver Spring.
  • This is only one end of the Canyon, which actually stretches on for miles. Perhaps there’s an impassible area after half a mile, and/or perhaps only this portion has the features mentioned, and the rest is more ordinary canyon. This is a little unsatisfactory, as it would basically make this two connected canyons with the same name, drastically reducing the familiarity when encountered in the novel.
  • Don’t worry about it for now; assume they’re the same and work out the details later.

Note that although on the map the canyon is placed on the road, in accordance with Faenaeyon’s description, it’s actually a goodly journey to the road. How far is three days’ march in the stoney barrens? And as Faenaeyon’s description implies some time spent in the canyon itself, it might be the case that the path is not at the same place on both sides of the canyon, thus extending the march. Yes; and remember that that three days may well be the total time to get back to the road, making it possibly a day-and-a-half from the bridge to the path. This fits well with what I had in mind anyway (though it’s not at all clear that we’re talking about the same path in both descriptions).

Oh, good Gravy. Three days’ march for an elf in 4e is…105 miles (the book says that it’s less than that for non-PCs, but I just can’t imagine Athasian elves only being able to run for 6-8 hours a day). Put that in the sandy wastes and it’s…105 miles. Half of that is 52.5 miles. That’s a ridiculously long way, and I have a hard time imagining the canyon being 100 miles long. It would be a major terrain feature. Let’s call the whole way difficult terrain equivalent to stony barrens; that makes the canyon a minimum 78 miles long (remember, 3 days run was the closest passage). The only reasonable conclusion is that Faenaeyon was grossly exaggerating. But having the characters travel 25-28 miles to the road seems a lot less unreasonable…except that’s also a huge distance in that part of the country.

Solutions:

  • Expand the map once again; make the distances longer than shown.
  • Don’t worry about it; characters move at the speed of plot (ugh).
  • Presume extremely difficult terrain if they’re going straight toward the road, which makes for 12 miles. That’s fairly reasonable.

Known sources

  • “The Vault of Darom Madar”, Dungeon 181
  • The Amber Enchantress, p. 97 & surrounding pages.

Canyon of Guthay

SyDarkSun DM Site Calion Calion