Sunday, February 20, 2011
The Dweomer Forest and its Denizens
We know this about the Dweomer Forest: it is a place devoid of any overt sign of humanity--except at its very center where lies atop a small, deforested knoll, a dome-like structure occupied by a group of clerics who seem to practice gambling as a form of worship. Though the name of their professed deity/religion is never made explicit, the description of their sylvan environs may give us some insight into the nature of their religious beliefs.
First off, their impervious dome is built atop a knoll that is climate-controlled so that the temperature never drops below 60 degrees F. Not surprisingly, no trees from the neighboring forest grow on the knoll; the rest of the forest is made up primarily of temperate hardwoods--trees that generally need a good cold winter to prosper. Instead, their little hill is covered with a low growing shrub with small green flowers and berries that make poor eating but when fermented make a palatable intoxicant. Generally, plants with small, green flowers--i.e. not visually appealing to insects and birds--spread their pollen via wind. The shrubs, like the priests, are a bit anti-social.
To this fact we may add that the forest is described as trackless except for a few paths that appear "natural." Presumably the priests of the holy dome must leave the forest occasionally to secure items unattainable in their woodland compound--a notion which is apparently confirmed by the true (non-italicized) rumor that a "high priest" with "a church somewhere within a dozen miles or so comes to town "from time to time." Since we know that Faldelac, head honcho at the church of the Big Gamble, is indeed a high priest and that no others are described in the environs of Restenford it seems safe to assume that Faldelac does, on occasion, roam his skinny ass over to Resty. Yet he makes sure to cover his trail; most likely using a different route each time he travels abroad so as not to leave a noticeable, non-natural seeming path.
As I mentioned, the forest is predominantly made up of temperate hardwoods--oak, beech, elm, and ash. Yet within a half mile radius of the hill top dome this community changes to walnut, maple, apple, and cherry trees. Sounds like a recipe for a fruit crisp, right? Obviously there's some forest stewardship going on here; whether it be the clerics of the "church" or the hand of their deity directly that directs the trees nearest their citadel to provide foodstuffs in addition to their other treelike duties.
There is also some discussion of the fauna of the forest. Numerous small mammals and birds can be seen throughout the forest, though they are especially dense in the "inner circle" of the forest, where the wildlife have apparently lost their fear of humanity and will very likely approach human interlopers expecting a handout of free food. We also know that the wildlife will have alerted the residents of the church to the presence of any intruders to their forest sanctuary.
What does all this add up to? We have a small community of clerics surrounded by a forest wherein both flora and fauna have been carefully managed to provide service to the inhabitatnts of the church. Yet this is no "one with nature" bunch of tree huggers; indeed their abode squats atop a hill rising above the forest floor like an old fashioned motte and baily type castle. The hill is, through magical or divine means, exempted from the worst weather conditions of the area, and has been carefully managed to create a monoculture of an unpleasant berry whose only value is to provide an intoxicating beverage. It seems safe, then, to assume that the church holds a patronistic attitude toward its "natural" surroundings. The trees are used at first to conceal the presence of the church and then to provide foodstuffs; the animal life is bribed into docility to provide an early warning system, and yet the priests choose for their quarters to quite literally rise above their forest environs and completely eliminate all contact with their immediate surroundings.
And the big question looms, what the hell does any of this have to do with gambling?