River of Laughing Idols

Soaring above the jungles of southern Kara-Tur, the Malatran Plateau has been invisible to the natives of Abeir-Toril for thousands of years. Most sages consider the area nothing more than an uninteresting wilderness.

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Big Mac
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River of Laughing Idols

Post by Big Mac »

I've seen a few mentions of the River of Laughing Idols. I see from the map that it flows from Fire Mountain to the Valley of Spirits.

However, the mentions I see are about specific tribes living near the River of Laughing Idols.

I've not seen anything about the river itself.

What is the river like? Is it easy to ford or is it wide and deep?

How fast is the river? If you fall into it, will you be swept along and thrown over the edge of the waterfall that drops down to the Valley of Spirits?

Why is it called the River of Laughing Idols? Are there idols along it's banks? Or is there a different reason for the name (like the source of the river being openings on the side of Fire Mountain that look like mouths of idols)?

If there are idols, do they actually make a laughing sound?

Are they sentient (or thought to be sentient) or is there some sort of natural property that makes a laughing sound (like the wind blowing through holes)?

If the idols actually laugh, can they do anything else?

How many of them are there?
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Re: River of Laughing Idols

Post by apotheot »

Some of this is covered in the primary sources such as Polyhedron, the Jungle Book of Malatra, and the 3e version The Jungle Book.
In short, there are MANY (unknown how many) statues sometime similar to moai, with hollow mouths and other holes in them that lets air and sometimes water through located throughout various parts of the river. This creates a sound which can be heard from about mile or so away that sounds like laughter. One source says that the idols are roughly every 100 or so feet down the river on average. The river itself is wide and strong, though not necessarily fast. It becomes wider as it nears the Valley falls, but slows considerably also. It floods every year particularly upriver where the Koshiva tribe(s) have made their homes in elaborate treehouses and the Rudra are on stilted huts. The Ratikaya and Tenanga are inland enough from the river they are not usually affected, and the moved Katimaya are too recent to have experienced any major flooding.

The river is essentially the fantasy version of the Mekong River, in Southeast Asia, which is fascinating in itself to learn about.

"Sentient" is a hard word for Malatra, as anything could be considered sentient. In one adventure, the heroes speak to one of the idols (through magic or intoxication) to learn about the history of a great plague that is about to ravage the jungle as it has before. But, by in large, no they are just statues albeit mysterious ones.

It is worth pointing out that at least one "Temple" has been discovered within a hollowed out idol that is some distance away from where the current river flows. However, although the Ancients are suspected, no one really knows who created the idols or why.


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Re: River of Laughing Idols

Post by gnarfunk »

Malatra is not the only setting with sound-based window dressing. Thunder Rift is so named because it elicits a thunderous sound from the waterfall in the north, which is audible throughout the rift.

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