World Building Wednesday-The Cloying Forest

CloyingForestNorthwest of the Hungry Mounts and North of the Muddy Draw and the Empire of Wesari and the Demon Swamp in the Midgeland, there is a thick forest the people of Alvar call the Cloying Forest.

The Cloying Forest has thick underbrush that makes passage extremely slow and difficult. The Lizardfolk to the South have for centuries been trying to again tame the forest after losing control of it during the war with the settlers of Reach. Their patrols frequent the wood, cutting paths and exploring, in addition to fighting off the Alvar advances.

The Centaurs that live in the plains to the Northwest in what is now Alvar believe that they have a claim on the forest. To the end of reclaiming it, they accepted the founding of Alvar on the condition that they would have control of the shrine of Zemail, Defender and Huntress of the Wood. It is fabled among them that her shrine is the source of the creeping underbrush in the forest. They whisper that since the lizardfolk lost control of the defiled shrine, she has reclaimed the wood for herself. They believe that if they were able to retake the shrine and cleanse it, they would be allowed to possess the wood under her protection.

As a player, would you help the centaurs reclaim the shrine?  Or would you help the lizardfolk hold the area? What complications/rewards could a player expect in the woods or the shrine itself? Let us know below.

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4 Responses to World Building Wednesday-The Cloying Forest

  1. Some miscellaneous thoughts:
    A trader might do good business selling metal axeheads, saws and machetes to the the lizardfolk…
    It seems strange that the centaurs are so interested in a forest goddess –forests are not really their sort of ecosystem. It suggests there’s more to their relationship with Zemail than meets the eye.
    A thick understory layer of shrubs and brambles makes it hard for the canopy trees above to successfully reproduce — their seedlings can’t survive in the thick shade below the shrubs. Over time this can lead to major changes in the tree/shrub species in the forest. So I wonder if it really is Zemail reclaiming her forest.
    Maybe some other spirit or demon was able to move in to the desecrated shrine. Or maybe the shrubs are an exotic invasive species, brought incidentally by the Alvar colonists. Zemail could have kept them under control, but with her shrine desecrated, she cannot exclude the invaders. Fires might help…

    • jameseck says:

      Thank you for you comments, some very good thoughts in general:
      For sure, either side would be willing to pay for good tools, but the lizardfolk might be willing to pay more for the advanced tech.

      Quite right, the centaurs lost the forest because they don’t like living their, but they have this curious relationship with the forest goddess that drives them to return.

      Uh oh, I didn’t consider the effects the underbrush would have on the canopy growth. That issue does raise questions and problems that could become a campaign in unto itself.

      I’m working on the desecrated shrine dungeon right now, these comments make me rethink how the dungeon will end. The way I’m planning on ending it now either supports Zemail reclaiming the forest or having no power to protect it. A different ending could support the demon concept. Worth considering.

      Thank you!

      • Regarding the thickets, they could be different species than the trees above, or they could just be saplings of the canopy species, but with their growth forms changed (distorted?) and thorns enlarged, branches extended and tangled, all by supernatural influence. Come to think of it, it could be both. The thickets might actually be slow-motion vegetative battlefields, created as Zemail and some other influence(s) use plants as proxies to fight for control of the area. Botanical warfare, if you will.

        It might also be interesting to think about what kinds of creatures would take advantage of the thicket habitat. Small creatures like Pixies? kobolds? giant rats? colonies of big (but not huge) social insects like termites or ants? or big browsing herbivores that consider a thicket a big buffet, (elephants, rhinos, ground sloths, moose)? Maybe lizard folk have some livestock, some dinosaurian herbivores like ceratopsians or ankylosaurs? Small birds will love the cover, and larger flyers might like to roost and nest on tall trees or rock outcrops protected by a sea of thicket and shrub.

        Fire is the enemy of most shrubs. Unlike trees, their bark isn’t thick enough to protect them, and they can’t resprout from the ground as easily as grasses can. Since it’s the Cloying Forest, it is presumably a humid region, where fires are rare. But if there was a drought, or some magical enhancement of fire…

      • jameseck says:

        I like the idea of a botanical warfare.

        Players passing through the forest would encounter any number of pests using the underbrush for shelter. Maybe even giant spiders just above the brush with their webs.

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