Developing Akorros – Lake Amsorak

As I mentioned, I’m participating in this year’s WorldAnvil Summer Camp, and they’ve already published the copper, silver and gold prompts, with the platinum ones to come later today (as I write).

I’m a bit behind – in fact so far I’ve only worked on prompts from the first batch. But it has spurred me to consider the lake that Akorros sits on the east coast of – Lake Amsorak.

The copper prompts are themed around “expanse”, where the first prompt is simply “An ocean, desert, plain, pocket dimension, or other large expanse”. I have decided to use Lake Amsorak for this, and have also decided there is a culture/race of lake people who take the place of the peddlers on land.

So as a starting point, the lake itself.

The Ice Age and the shaping of the Amsorak basin

Prompt (from 2020): Write about the events of a devastating natural disaster in your world, either past or present. On WorldAnvil here.

5000 years ago, the land in the area now known as Darokin, and in particular Lake Amsorak, looked very different. Where the lake now stands was a region of rolling hills, copses, grasslands and forests filled with plentiful game – animals, birds, reptiles – hunted by the early humans living as hunter-gatherers.

 Then came the Great Rain of Fire, the cracking of the world, and the ice age. The whole region was smothered under several miles of ice which flowed slowly from north to south through what would become central Darokin and Alfheim. The Cruth mountains in the west of the land channelled the ice flow eastward to join the larger flow south. The immense pressures scraped out the earth in the Amsorak basin, deepening it and carrying it eastward where it was deposited at the point where the two ice flows merged, forming the fertile hills now to the east of Akorros.

 The earth’s crust had cracked in the turmoil and under the immense weight, and a string of volcanoes opened up under the ice, moving from west to east over the centuries as the ice moved and the hot spot also migrated. The heat from these melted the underside of the ice, lubricating the flow and increasing the excavating power, and the remnants are still visible in the islands sticking up above the lake – Itheldown Island, Greenleaf Island and Razak’s Rock, as well as many smaller peaks both above and beneath the waves. They also formed the peak which forms the centre of Akorros , as well as the many islets which protect its harbour. The volcanic hot spot then drifted further east, forming the ridge which points towards the centre of Darokin and forces the road to Darokin City  to take a large dog-leg further north than the direct line to city.

 Eventually the volcanoes quietened, the ice sheets receded, and the land was again visible. The deep valley left behind filled with water, forming the massive lake, and the transported earth and ground up rock dust settled out forming the fertile fields and hills of Darokin.

Lake Amsorak

Prompt: An ocean, desert, plain, pocket dimension, or other large expanse. On WorldAnvil here.

To the west of Akorros  lies Lake Amsorak. It stretches about 140 miles east to west (from Akorros to Akesoli ), and a smilar distance from Fort Anselbury in the south to Fort Lakeside in the north, and is roughly shaped like a trapezoid.

Lake Amsorak and Western Darokin
Extract from replica map by Thorfinn Tait’ from his amazing Atlas of Mystara
Used with permission under a CC-BY-NC-SA licence

Lake Amsorak is the main trade route from the west – the spices, silks, carpets, ivory, and other exotic materials transported across [the Sind Waste] to Akesoli by the nomad caravans. Large trader boats constantly ply the lake between Akesoli and Akorros, bringing in the exotic goods and returning with the leather, steel, weapons, armour, wood, tea and coffee which sell well in the west. Many of these are Umbarth House ships, based out of Akesoli and shipping to the Umbarth/Pennydown port in the north of Akorros, but there are also rival traders who travel around the lake and put into the main port of Akorros. The two groups generally give each other a wary amount of space when passing, but they have been known to come to blows.

A third group of traders, the Shi’ika, act like the land-based peddlers, travelling from village to village around the lake with the essentials for life, and a few luxuries as well when they have space. They address a very different market to the shipping traders, and so are not considered competition. Indeed, the shippers will sometimes approach a Shi’ika for stores and supplies.

The lake is rich in fish: red snapper, Amsorak trout, the ugly paladinfish with its domed head like a knight’s helmet (considered a delicacy in Akorros), shoals of oily herring and sand swimmers, white fleshed sohar flatfish, dogfish and sharks, freshwater tuna, octopus, squid, eels and lampreys, crab, freshwater mussels and oysters. The islands which dot the lake teem with bird life which swoops and swirls, diving into the shoals, then returning to their nests in the stacks, streaked white with their guano – particularly the Amsorak puffins, the long-beaked shearwaters and the black-feathered cormorants (often kept as fishers by the raft people).

Underneath the waters is a whole different world. Merfolk and sauaghin rule the waterkelp forests and spires, and the squid grow to enormous sizes. Sailors talk of strange monsters which can swallow up a vessel in a single gulp, and of waterspouts and whirlpools which can appear out of nowhere and tear a ship to pieces. Certainly storms can blow up suddenly, threatening shipping and forcing boats to run for shelter or heave-to or run before the wind until it abates.

The Shi’ika – the Amsorak Boat People

Prompt: Α culture who lives by, near or within an ocean, desert or other expanse. On WorldAnvil here.

The Amsorak Boat People, who call themselves the Shi’ika, spend their lives on Lake Amsorak , travelling from port to port around the lake carrying supplies to all the lakeside settlements. The arrival of the Shi’ika Boat in these small villages is welcomed as enthusiastically as The Peddler Wagons  in the villages of plains of Darokin, and serves much the same purpose.

Like the peddlers, they transport basic foodstuffs like flour, sugar, salt, dried herbs and spices, rice, oats, dried fruit, dried meat and sweetmeats, along with cloth, hides, leather, thread, pins and needles, pots and pans, knives, scissors, awls, saws, hammers, spades, forks and other tools, nails, cutlery, paper, parchment, writing implements and various inks along with sand for drying the ink and wax for sealing.

They also have whatever fresh foodstuffs they were able to pick up at the previous settlements they visiting – maybe turnips, carrots, blueberries, fish, crabs, shrimp, lettuce, apples, cherries, pears – the selection varies widely from settlement to settlement and from season to season.

As well as the goods, they also provide services – they all have a sharpening wheel for knives, scissors, axes and so on, plus mending facilities for pots and pans.

Strangely for traders they refuse to carry or sell alcoholic drinks, despite the high markup they would be able to command. However they are renowned for their freshly squeezed juices which they can prepare on the spot: apple, pear, lime, lemon, cherry, even carrot, onion, parsnip, and the fruiting pods of various lake plants.

They also refuse to carry or sell weapons, although they all have sturdy staffs which they can use to defend themselves and repel boarders.

Although they mostly travel independently, they all gather together on Greenleaf Island for the midwinter and midsummer solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes for several days of partying and to celebrate significant birthdays and marriages, taking the chance to catch up with friends and family and reaffirm the bonds of the Boat People.

Greenleaf Island is also the location of the trees they use to build their boats, and there is a permanent settlement of boatbuilders available to build new boats and repair existing ones.


The Great Rain of Fire and the cracking of the world is established Mystara canon, and caused the end of the Blackmoor civilization. The details of the glaciers covering Darokin and the results are my extrapolation based on the current shape of the land and memories of geography lessons.

Similarly, Lake Amsorak is depicted in the maps of the Republic of Darokin, and I have based my geographical description on that (with thanks to Thorfinn Tait for the wonderful reproduction map, and making it available under a compatible Creative Commons licence). Again, the details are my invention – there is very little in the gazetteer to describe the lake, other than that Itheldown Island is supposed to be haunted and sailors say that seeing its spires is a sign of tragedy to come.

The Shi’ika are completely my own invention – and I have already dropped them into my campaign as a thread which may lead to something. I will expand on them in the next few Summer Camp posts, and post a combined version here on the blog.

One thought on “Developing Akorros – Lake Amsorak

  1. Great work! The Shi’ika are just the sort of local flavor that helps a world feel lived in–I appreciate that you continue to flesh out Akorros and its environs.

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