- "Landuin was the purest and finest of the Grail Companions. He drew all the virtue of his land into his person and left the country the waste it is now."
- —Sir Emmerin, Knight of Lyonesse, shortly before his execution for heresy[1a]
Ever since the death of the previous Duke, what remains of Mousillon is a backwater region filled with marshes, bogs and swamps. Those people still living within the Dukedom are inbred and horribly mutated. Mousillon villages look poor and rundown, more so than typical Bretonnian villages. The peasant hovels are on the verge of collapsing, streets are little more than sewers, and there are as many dead animals to be seen as living ones. The inhabitants watch any visitors silently from their homes, cowering within and giving only occasional glimpses of their malformed bodies. No one rules this accursed land, for none wish to do so otherwise. [1a]
- "Never been there, never want to go. Do I look like an idiot?"
- —Eldegar of Busreq, Coachman[1a]
Mousillon is the smallest, poorest, and most cursed of the dukedoms of Bretonnia. Much of its land was taken by Lyonesse in 1814 IC, after the corruption of Duke Merovech was revealed. The Duke of Mousillon slew the King of Bretonnia and drank his blood before the assembled nobles. War was the only solution. The remaining land falls into two areas. In the west, the coastal areas are dominated by swamp with isolated areas of higher and firmer ground. In the north and east there are rugged hills and the edges of the Forest of Arden. The whole of Mousillon is plagued by extreme weather. When the air is still, thick fogs gather. If there is wind, it is always strong and almost always accompanied by rain or hail. Thunderstorms are common, as are fires started by lightning strikes. Fortunately, these fires do not spread very far.[1a]
The hills are rocky and treacherous, and most vegetation consists of scrubby thorn bushes. The Mousillon Rose also grows in the hills. This bush has luxuriant evergreen leaves and vivid purple flowers that bloom most of the year. It looks out of place in the hills, but it fits right in. The stems are coated with vicious, barbed thorns, and the pollen is a deadly poison. What is more, it grows where a human corpse has been left to rot. The sites of old battles turn into thickets of the deadly plant. Mousillon's swamps are even more treacherous. The firm ground of a trail often sinks an inch or so beneath the level of the water. This poses no problem for those in stout boots or on horseback, apart from the existence of sucking mud and quicksand under the same water a yard or so to either side. To make matters worse, Swamp Mat creates false trails.[1a]
Swamp Mat is a grassy plant that grows out from solid ground, over water, mud, and quicksand, forming a raft about six feet wide and up to hundreds of yards long. It traps mud in its leaves and draws much of the water from it, so that the top of the Swamp Mat is hard to distinguish visually from the trails it links to. Those stepping on it can easily tell the difference, however; Swamp Mat cannot support anything heavier than a small rodent. The cursed dukedom is haunted by Undead, in far greater numbers than elsewhere in the kingdom. Indeed, the land positively encourages the Undead. Undead creatures summoned by necromantic spells do not revert to normal corpses if they become uncontrolled. Instead, they continue to obey their last order until destroyed in combat.[1a]
Wandering Undead can sense the borders of Mousillon and turn back. If forced across, they become normal corpses unless they are still controlled. These energies seem to be appealing to other Undead, as well; there are many reports of Vampiric nobility, though not on the scale of Sylvania. There are surprisingly few reports of Beastmen. Beastmen Zombies and Skeletons are common near the Forest of Arden, but living Beastmen seem to avoid the area. The exception is tales of man-sized rats and Ratmen; such creatures are often encountered in the swamps.[1a]
- "If you don’t behave, I’ll lock you out when the monsters come."
- —Punishment employed by exasperated mothers in Mousillon[1a]
The people of Mousillon are generally human, though you would not always know it to look at them. Most peasants are horribly deformed and suffer constantly from foul diseases. The residents of Mousillon are there because they cannot leave: many deformities that are normal in the dukedom would get someone burned as a mutant anywhere else. Indeed, there are a number of Mousillon peasants who are mutants but who live in what passes for normal society because nobody has realized anything is wrong. Some people do come to Mousillon from outside. These are the most depraved and evil bandits, cultists of the Ruinous Powers, and Necromancers. They believe, rightly, that few people will bother to pursue them once they enter the cursed dukedom. Many such immigrants find that the monsters waiting for them are more dangerous than any Bounty Hunter, but a few survive to add to the peril for the next set of arrivals.[1a]
Mousillon villages look poor and rundown. The peasant hovels are on the verge of collapsing, streets are little more than sewers, and there are as many dead animals to be seen as living ones. The inhabitants watch any visitors silently from their homes, cowering within and giving only occasional glimpses of their malformed bodies. The castles of the nobility also appear to be decaying, but here the appearance is somewhat illusory. Ruined portions are not unusual, but the parts that are still inhabited are always well maintained but never beautiful. The decaying corpses of gibbeted criminals hang outside most castles, fat ravens feeding on the remnants. The nobles all wear black armour with a helmet, and they never reveal their faces.[1a]
Some are actually Undead, Vampires, Wights, or Mummies, and the same lord has ruled for centuries. Others are mutants, or servants of the Ruinous Powers bearing the marks of their lords. A few are simply human and need to hide that fact lest their neighbours think them weak. Adventurers do not need a reason to leave Mousillon. They left because they were able to do so. Many lived near the borders in the first place and were lucky enough to be born undeformed. A few were simply born with more courage and drive than those around them, and for these adventurers, leaving Mousillon is merely the first step. Almost all lie about their origins: Mousillon's reputation for degenerate evil is not one most adventurers want to carry.[1a]