Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Wilderwoods

You tread carefully along the narrow forest path, watching the mysterious shadows between the trees with mistrustful eyes. Something in the distance howls, the the howl breaks off into a squeal of pain... Welcome to The Wilderwoods. Last time we ventured out of the City for our first foray into the Realm of Lives and examined the safety and security of the Julian Plains. Now we head further, into the dark and mysterious forest that borders the Plains to the east. Known as the Wilderwoods, the forest marks the edge of the known Realm in that direction -- and it's filled with big nasties and adventures. Let's take a look.

Archetype: The big dark scary woods: The woods from Little Red Riding Hood, Mirkwood from The Hobbit, Sherwood Forest from Robin Hood. Dark, dangerous and unexplored -- filled with wild animals, both real and mythical. Perhaps bandits lurk in its depths, and they're more Mongol Hordes than Robin Hood. You never know what you're going to get in a forest like this -- hunting monsters, searching abandoned military outposts, encountering a rogue Crafter in a magical tower.

Real-Life Inspiration: Well, as a lifelong townie, I'm not terribly familiar with any forests in my own history. On the other hand, the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest have been on the periphery of my vision my whole life (not to mention in every TV show I watch that's filmed in Vancouver -- the immense number of evergreen forests on Stargate SG-1's alien worlds comes to mind). So in my head, the Wilderwoods are mostly filled with pine and fir, with bears, moose, and cougars over tigers or crocodiles. Which, of course, reminds me of a question to answer at some point: what is the biome of the Realm of Lives like? Should it be like the Pacific Northwest, North American environment I'm familiar with? Should I rejigger it so that it more closely resembles the classic English countryside Tolkien made famous? Somewhere further afield, like Iran or Australia? Or does nobody care, and should I just jam together a fun, if environmentally impossible mish-mash of ecological characteristics? Sound off in the comments!

Theme: The Wilderwoods is, from a game standpoint, an adventure mill. It's a mysterious area filled with nasty critters. It's deliberately vague in terms of geography and inhabitants, so almost anything can happen there. In a more literary, thematic, sense, the Wilderwoods represents the wild unknown. The mysterious, shadowy, "here there be monsters" part of the map. The Wilderwoods should never be a safe haven for the PCs, but a place for adventure and terror.

Twist: Well, for once, here's a dark and mysterious forest that's not secretly populated by elves and fairies, so that's new... seriously, I got nothin'. The Wilderwoods are dark and mysterious. They represent the edge of the world -- and also the edge of my interest. The City of Lives is about the titular City, and about the other Realms the characters can explore. While I like the places I've built up around the City, they are not where my design goals fall -- this is not really a dungeoneering or frontiersman campaign -- so I don't have all that much in my head to fill the mysterious void of the Wilderwoods with. And maybe that's okay. The whole point of them is to be mysterious, after all, ready to be populated with whatever the GM needs that day...

Locations:

The Greensman’s Garden 
Description: On the edge of the woods, a perfectly-maintained garden sits, maintained by a mysterious... Rural? Demigod?
Theme: A forest guardian keeps his garden safe.
Aspect: A Demigod of Dubious Divinity Dwells Here
Face: The Greensman – Eccentric Rural or God of the Wild?

The Greensman  
Character Concept Aspect: ’Umble ’Elper of the Wilderness
Bloodline: Rural Turned God – Or The Other Way ’Round
Youth: Follows the Seeding Manual to the Letter – Maybe He Wrote It?
First Adventure: Oi Must Protect Me Garden
Free-Form 1: Very Gullible and None Too Bright
Free-Form 2: Moi Friends Morris

The Crashers’ Camp 
Description: Home of the Crashers, a Kipman/Rural band of barbarian raiders
Threat: Home of paranoid, angry marauders
Aspect: They Can Be Fun When They're Not Murdering You
Face: Skarch – Kipman Barbarian Leader Working on His Anger Issues

Next time we'll venture to the very edge of the known Realm of Lives (at least to the East) in the Mountains of Mourning. See you there.