Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Red forest

The Red forest is considered the most dangerous of all of Gdera's woods. The Red is poisonous; its plants, animals, even the soil can be lethal. The traveller can be killed by eating, sniffing, or touching the fleshy plants, by being pricked or cut, sleeping under or leaning against them, being eaten or overgrown, and countless other ways. Many animals are venomous as well. Since the dosage makes the poison, the Red forest offers a plethora of medicinal substances that are used all over the world. Among the most known plants are the widely planted meereh tree ("Miere", bright red, tasty fruits on a poisonous tree), and the infamous woundberry.
"Grandmother died of a ral leaf's prick, father from fassalia pollen, my husband of hegitio bark, my eldest child from kabi thorns. For all my knowledge, the poisons are as devious and elusive as master assassins."
— Gewron, apothecary
Its few inhabitants are nomadic, and the Red forest is avoided by travellers when they can. Clothing is more protective than pretty and mostly leather. The natives are always wary and overly careful, often grumpy because of their hard lives, but appreciative of the Red's lethal beauty. Because of high children's mortality rates, mothers are often sent outside the forest.
"We never know whether to encourage or forbid research in the Red forest. Cures for the foulest diseases have been found, but the question always is, will the forest kill the mage before she pries some secret from its poisonous grip?"
— Bouve, mage
Artists' notes
The most alien forest even before the White, the Red offers storytelling opportunities somewhere between hot wire games and tribes with poison arrows. Fantasy classically features lots of strange forests, and this one is hell become wood, with much inspiration from the Sierra Madre. I imagine Red forest scenes as brightly lit, but claustrophobic, like post-apocalyptic movies.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Elementarians: Dryads

Dryads are the elementarians of the west, the element of life. Several meters tall, with overly long arms, numerous fingers, and roots for legs below the knee; dryads are perceived as female. Their skin is bark, they have twigs for hair, their mouthless face shows bright eyes and a grim expression. A dryad fiercely defends her hometree, but can live without it. Unlike other elementarians, dryads hardly ever speak and are considered the most powerful of them.
"It is not by accident that we call a devastating event or a tool of destruction "a dryad's word". The last time a dryad spoke, all of Gdera heard it. We should be thankful that the ominous treeladies rarely utter anything."
— Mbagu Greeneyes, western wizard
While dryads are not evil, they are the least predictable elementarians and busily pursue their unfathomable plans. They appear in destroyed forests to restore them, or even destroy artificial structures themselves. A traveling dryad is reason to abandon settlements. A resident dryad, however, guarantees rich harvest, intact woods, and good health.
"The sitting dryads in Clom Vah's great voice hall have legs. Since they usually don't, one cannot tell if he statues really are dryads - many mages tried to find out. Without success."
— Rachneei Injira, gderan citizen
Artists' notes
Dryads are wonderful mythological creatures. I wanted to keep them close to the easily angered Greek originals. However, there's only one dryad per wood, not per tree. They're the reason words are so powerful in Genius Loci - I had drawn a mouthless dryad and wondered if they could speak at all, and what that would be like.