The more peaceful section of the swamp is called the Thicket. This includes the entire southwest end of the swamp and the border area round the Backswamp — a periphery that generally stretches approximately 15 miles into the interior — is much like any swamp you could visit in the real world. It is only as dangerous as ignorance allows, hostile environment notwithstanding. Alligators and black bears hunt amidst the oaks, tupelo, bald cypress and hackberry trees, eating white-tailed deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, frogs, crabs, fish and other common animals of various sizes (unlike crocodiles, alligators very rarely attack people). Common bats catch insects whilst birds sing their mating tunes.
The people of the bayous harvest swamp moss, crawfish, shrimp, crabs and oysters while avoiding cottonmouth and copperhead snakes, biting flies, black widow spiders, stinging wasps, and angry bees. Mosquitoes are eaten by dragonflies (know as mosquito hawks locally) and butterflies dart from flower to tree limb along with the horseflies and caterpillars. Lizards and skinks can be spotted at the edges of the bayous, as can common garter, king, and rat snakes. In the water, whirligig beetles spin in circular patterns, attempting to avoid the predatory fish.
There are familiar wetland avifauna, such as the crab-plover, egret, goose, heron, ibis, laughing gull, marsh owl, oystercatcher, pelican, sandhill crane, spoonbill, stilt and wood stork, as well as more common birds like the barred owl, blue jay, crow, dabbling duck, dove, eagle, falcon, hummingbird, loon, passenger pigeon, and woodpecker. From moths to ants, mice to locusts, and foxes to squirrels, the Thicket is a fairly mundane and subtle place. Avoiding dangers such as sinking mudflats, poisonous plants, rotten wood, disease, and the drowning waters, merely requires environmental knowledge.
Here, it is people, the Creeps, which are the predominant killers. Any venture within the swamp, even the Thicket, should not be undertaken without a guide and a guard. Guides can be found in the ranks of the Bayou Punters, and some halflings or Marshfolk. Rangers and druids may decide to guide those worthy of their special nature, and even Lizardfolk can be hired for the right price (if one can stand the smell). Moor Knights make excellent guards.
Beyond the outer swamp border is a stretch of 12 miles of heath, a prairie of moist meadows and thick, low grasses. In the Arable Republic, these are areas where the heath rangers roam, resting in camouflaged campsites that are inconspicuous even to the human militia. This human militia of the Arable Republic, officially labeled the Moor Knights, patrols the heath and the surrounding farmland on their side of the swamp. In the Thalass Emirate, no one patrols the edges of the swamp, but at its worst section lies Dismal Acropolis, a long wall-fort manned by soldiers on probation. These forlorn soldiers endure their punishment, returning home with mosquito bites, skin rashes and memories of a forlorn experience. The fort-wall is mounted with scores of ballista pointed at the swamp, built to keep monstrous nasties from wandering into civilized lands. The location is perfectly selected, built at the exit of a natural animal trail where many creatures (and people) exit the swamp.
Travelers on foot can wade through the Thicket at the rate of 8 miles in a day. By punting on a bateau boat, an expedition can traverse 15 miles, presuming 16 hours of travel and 8 hours of sleep. Becoming lost is quite easy for greenhorns in this nearly trackless environment. Rangers and druids know the animal paths over dry hummocks, increasing walking speed to 12 miles in a day if one accompanies a party.