Worldbuilding Power: Forests

Use the woodlands in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures!

In the real world forests are the dominant ecosystem, covering around 30% of the Earth’s landmass. They hold most of the species of plant life, and can exist across a broad range of climates and habitats. There are boreal forests, or “snow forests”, near the poles comprised mainly of conifers like pine and spruce trues. Tropical forests, also known as broadleaf forests, exist near the equator where it’s hot and humid. At mid-latitudes, temperate forests contain a mixture of conifers, broadleaf, and deciduous trees. Knowing this, its easy to see why forests are so prominent and iconic in many works of fantasy.

An adventurer will find both challenges and resources within a forest. There will be food, both edible plants and game to hunt, as well as sources of water. Materials to create shelter are everywhere. The forest will also harbor creatures who hunt, dangerous flora and fauna, and a variety of natural hazards to avoid or overcome.

Antagonists will find the forests to be filled with opportunities. They can hide deep within the woods, allowing them to plan and scheme. Henchmen and hirelings might be found there as well, seeking to avoid the law, or civilization in general. There will be resources to exploit, allowing them to build up their power before striking out. It may also be that the forest is their home, their point of origin, providing a metaphorical if simple explanation for their desire to control it, if not rule over it.

Among more metropolitan folk, the forest can represent many things. It might be the source of beauty and wonder, or the raw materials of civilization. It will be a topic of dread rumors, scary stories, and misinformation. While there may be truth to what passes for common knowledge, it will likely be greatly distorted. The popular version of forests, for dwellers far outside of them, will be rooted more in theme and motif than fact.

In this book, we’ll show you how to utilize forests in your worldbuilding endeavors. You’ll see how it can influence character, setting, and story elements. By the end, you’ll understand how to better utilize wooded realms as essential, useful, and entertaining parts of your campaign.

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