Monday, February 14, 2011

Elf ecology overview - Enchanted Forests and Tree-top Villages

Tree-Top Villages 
Elven architecture is unique and easy to recognize, as their houses will be elevated on stilts as high as possible, always rising to be integrated into the structures of the trees around which they are built.  The only thing built by the elfs at ground level are their doghouses.   In newer constructions, and in newer sections of the forest, these elevated elven houses will remain closer to the ground, perhaps only 30 or 40 feet high.  Elfs typically access their elevated houses by expertly climbing the stilt logs or the adjoining trees.  Ropes can be lowered as needed, and lifts are occasionally employed as well, to elevate heavy objects, the infirm, or non-elf guests.
As the trees grow upwards, the elf villages seem to grow with them.   The oldest and tallest sections of the forest will see elf homes rising hundreds of feet above the ground.  Their clan chiefs can always be found residing in these majestic lofts.  In these old villages, gravity-defying cities float in the heights above the forest.  Half-suspended from above by ropes, half-supported from below by stilts, clinging to the sides of the great trees and spanning the distance between them like bridges, these tree-top elf towns are an amazing site to behold. 
Humans are rarely comfortable visiting the heights of these tree-top villages, as the elfs move comfortably along narrow planks and suspended ropes, scaling vertical tree trunks and moving among branches with ease.   Built among the living and growing trees of the forest, the elven structures seem to have a life of their own, always being reinforced, extended, disassembled, or even rebuilt entirely as the need arises.   
Magic Forests -- fire suppression
A human visitor is immediately alerted upon entering elf territory when his torches die out, because starting or maintaining a fire in the elven woods is impossible.  The elfs themselves can see in the dark, so even on a dark moonless night they are not handicapped by the lack of fire.  The envelope of this magical effect is not set, it seems to move around on its own, protecting a meadow one year, leaving it unprotected the next.  The ultimate source of this magic is not known.  Its effect is: thickly overgrown forests on the ground level, with huge ancient trees rising above. 
Magic Forests -- the Wee Folk
The elven woods are pregnant with all kinds of powerful magic, the most notorious of which comes from the wee people.  Faeries, Quicklings, Brownies, Leprechauns... there are many names used to describe them, and a full catalog has certainly not been completed, nor is it ever likely to be completed, as the wee people are full of mischief and deception.   They seem to take supreme delight in all manner of trick and humiliation.  Stealing human treasure is an always-popular lark.  Leading a person into a deep pit or over a cliff edge is considered a clever practical joke.  
Provoking by petty offense seems to be their full time occupation. Perks of their work include guiding their provoked victims into wolf warrens, bear caves, or the sacred groves of the Centaur Kings, as they certainly appear to enjoy the hilarity of the general chaos which then ensues.  In all fairness, the object of their joke might have been the wolfs, bears, or Centaurs; their humor draws no distinctions.  As they are known to possess a huge reserve of real treasure, their supply of desperate victims never seems to runs short.   Just sufficient is the number of people who escape their clutches with a pot of gold, to keep a regular supply of more adventurers hungry to try their luck.  One is left wondering, perhaps this is part of their ongoing joke...
Magic Forests -- the Living Woods
A second powerful magic of the elven woods is far more menacing: the living trees. The trees of the elven forest all seem to share in some sort of sentience.   The "singing" of the living wood is a sound unlike any other, never to be forgotten by any who hear it.    Occasionally, the spirits of the living trees walk abroad, often taking the form of beautiful maidens.   
Many trees do more than just sing, but are capable of movement.  The trees seem to be motivated mainly by the desire to add mulch and fertilizer to their root zone, and foolish humans who wander into their clutches are quickly added thereto.  With their swinging branches, they can be quite dangerous.   Some trees seem to have the ability to fully uproot themselves, and move around.   Called guardians of the forest, they are sure to be there in defense if any malign force threatens the woods. 
Magic Forests -- other sentient races
Aside from the Elfs (and the various wee people), the other sentients in the magic forest include the Satyrs, the Centaurs, and the Hybsil.  The Satyrs (and their cousins the Korreds) are the most dour and least friendly of the woodland creatures. They prefer the thickest, darkest, and most secluded areas of the forest (with the Korreds congregating in the rockiest).   The Centaurs seem to prefer the thinner, high altitude forest and the alpine meadows.  The Hybsil can be found throughout, guarding over the passage of their antelope herds.   
Elfs in AZ Adventures
The Tonto Forest is the epicenter of Elf society in AZ.   Payson itself is a joint-use trading post on the southern edge of their enchanted forests.  Humans, dwarfs, gnomes, and halflings meet in Payson to exchange goods and information.  
Elfs are mainly insulated from human interaction within the enchanted woods, and make little distinction between rival human groups.  Any humans who are found tresspassing in their woods without elf escort are assumed to be hostiles, and treated as such.  
The humanoids of the Apache Forest to the east, mainly goblins, gnolls, and bugbears, are at continual war with the elfs.  

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