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Creating fantasy lands.


I've often wondered whether the persistent fantasy trope (and not only fantasy) of being alone or lost in the woods is because we spent so much of our prehistory and history living in and around forests.
Never thought of that. I just always had a weird fascination with being alone in the woods. Besides in the woods you aren't truly alone there are the plants and animals which I always found to be better company than other people.


Myth Weaver
Never thought of that. I just always had a weird fascination with being alone in the woods. Besides in the woods you aren't truly alone there are the plants and animals which I always found to be better company than other people.

I dwell in semi-rural Alaska, just shy of where the road grid stops. The Alaskan homestead I grew up on was at the literal edge of the road grid - my family was one of about two dozen that attempted to 'prove' their lots and one of maybe four that succeeded - the rest either dying or giving up.

About two dozen years ago, an urbanite cousin of mine came into a minor windfall, and like some of those here, expressed a desire to live in a small cabin in the woods. I recommended against this course of action, strongly suggesting he should stay close to what passes for civilization. He persisted, so I took him to a rural subdivision with dirt cheap land at the edge of nowhere. Followed the signs, came to a string of hillside lots with fairly impressive views. We get out and look around. I am pointing out possible building sites, a location for the well, stuff like that (I did a fair bit of construction in those days). It dawns on me I hadn't heard him speak for a while. I turn and see him leaning against the vehicle, eyes wide open with fright. I saw a place that might make a decent homesite with a lot of work; he was seeing bears and monsters coming out of the trees. We got back in the vehicle and returned to my place. He never brought the topic up again.


toujours gai, archie
Yup. This. Bears and monsters come out of the trees. Our ancestors worked very hard so as *not* to go into the trees.

I say this knowing well that woodcutters and others did live in the forest. Woodcutters were also seen as half-wild themselves.

I just caught a video of someone traveling in Romania. He was not in the wild by any means, just rural and mountainous. The house where he stayed was walled and gated. Sign on the gate read: please close the gate. We have wolves, wild boar, and wild dogs. Thank you.

Forest? I'll take my air-conditioned cave, any day. <grin>


Myth Weaver
A few years ago, a local character slapped a cardboard sign on a cluster box in a rural subdivision that was part of my mail route; '2 bear cubs, No Sow.' Long string of houses next to the river thereabouts...but plenty of tall shrubbery.
Speaking of loving and hating environments like the woods and forests (as I grew up in the North Woods in MN, so quite fine with them), the swamps of the world. They can be as terrifying as they can be beautiful. And also kind of ugly at times, particularly the sluggish and brackish water ones. But they are a key part of the environment, even if people don't like them. Having grown up around the north woods ones, I quite liked them and only scared myself a few times during childhood chasing cattle through them and nearly falling into beaver runs.

But they are great for fantasy lands and having visited places like the Dismal Swamp (aptly named) and canoed out on it (with requisite 'where are the gators?' fear) it is also very beautiful. And quite a dangerous part for world building. They do tend to get shafted in the fantasy world building, as only another thing to fear, unless there is a group native to them that can be allied with them. I still enjoy using them and trend to go towards more tropical versions of them in my own.

And with swamps comes the sheer variety of wildlife one can build with them too. Past, present, fantasy and future.

Ned Marcus

I've noticed the love-hate relationship many people have with nature (including the woods). My friend's friend—someone who had always lived in the city—visited the Scottish Highlands. He lasted about a day, then panicked at the wide open spaces and rushed home. The open spaces that frightened him is something I love.

Now, I live next to a sub-tropical forest. I see a lot of things coming out of the forest and hear a lot more. Even apart from the change of atmosphere at night in forests, I've got no wish to go and live with the poisonous spiders and snakes. It's enough to meet them on the edges. I'm not too keen on the monkeys either, to be honest.

I'm happy just looking and listening. I definitely like the fresh air though.

That said, it's likely that our ancestors used trees as a refuge (as monkeys and chimpanzees do now) in the pre-historic period. You could avoid some dangerous predators that way.


Myth Weaver
I happen to be in a small cabin deep into in the woods this weekend. And there are bears to be careful of. As i walked around, i just have my story brain on and imagine what it might be like to be a character in my stories. I am now convinced that in one of my scenes, saying the woods prevented arrow attack is sound.

No bear attacks but i was wary of them. One tick though…. I also kept seeing things i might use if i has to survive in them. It was a little cold, if it had been warmer might have had the best time ever in the woods. I don't care if the woods are work. Just in it for the experience.

Hmmmm. No wood nymphs either. Must have been too cold for them.

Super Fantasy

The fantasy kingdom might be a winter one, or one with winter and the other seasons.
There might be many castles or ruins among pine trees.
Perhaps the kingdom is very ancient, and many roads were once prominent, now visible as smaller paths that lead into forests.
I play with Azgaar until I get a map I like and then alter it until it makes sense. Or at least that's what I'm in the process of doing, seems to be working.