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    Canonfire :: View topic - Elven village design
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    Elven village design
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Dec 08, 2006
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    Sat Dec 09, 2006 3:47 am  
    Elven village design

    I am working on a design for a wood elven village set in the silverwood forest, where it is said that many sylvan elves live. For my location, i am considering a spot in the south of the forest, roughly half way between the two rivers, about 12 miles in a more or less westerly direction from the city of Jurnre.

    I want this village, Ce Ath Sumwnn, to be an interesting and fascinating place for my PCs to visit, and i want it to reflect the 'typical' wood elven village. The problem is, i am having trouble visualising this village, and would appreciate any suggestions. i want it to differ from high elven architecture, as i plan to send my characters to the ruins of a high elven city later in the campaign, and i want for my PCs to be able to be able to notice the difference in culturual architecture and feel between the two places.

    I've looked through the Races of the Wild suppliment, and was dissappointed to find that elves were treated as an homogenous whole, and nothing to distinguish a wood elven settlement from a high elven one.

    i have considered having my wood elves live 'in' the trees themselves, in hollowed out boles and wood-shaped dens, only this, in my reckoning, requires trees of improbable girth, especially in such a 'smallish forest' as the silverwood, where the largest of the sorrounding gums might be between 5 to 8ft (not a very inspiring proportion for a home).

    i would be love to hear how others have dealt with wood elven communities in their greyhawk campaign, and what (dare i say it?) canon references there might be out there for the silverwood and sylvan elves.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 09, 2006 4:27 am  

    Ive always imagined small elvish villages almost being 'a part' of the surrounding forest. Instead of living in hollowed out trees as you mentioned, why not have the trees 'shaped' into houses? Several large trees planted in a circle that grow together into one continous wall (much like a large teepee, but with solid wood instead of hides). With druids and nature priests, the tree could easily be manipulated and formed into suitable homes. Perhaps even the furnishings inside would be extensions of tree itself. Other houses might be built higher up in the canopy, safely out of view of those below, perhaps with an access ladder in the middle of the trunk of a large tree. I think the individual houses would be quite spread out and for the most part well camoflagued, but the central areas of gathering and business would be quite large and airy and in a place thats easily defendable (if in an area known for bandits and or humanoids). I would say that wood elves make very little impact on the enviroment and it could be possible for someone to walk right through the middle of an elven village without even knowing it...
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 07, 2004
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    From: Mt. Smolderac

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    Sat Dec 09, 2006 11:13 pm  
    Re: Elven village design

    Overslave wrote:
    i have considered having my wood elves live 'in' the trees themselves, in hollowed out boles and wood-shaped dens, only this, in my reckoning, requires trees of improbable girth, especially in such a 'smallish forest' as the silverwood, where the largest of the sorrounding gums might be between 5 to 8ft (not a very inspiring proportion for a home).


    Don't forget though that the trees in the Silverwood could be very ancient and large even though it is a smallish forest. It was probably larger at some point and was cut back by humans. I like the ideas both you and Phantasm72 envision. Roger Dean, the artist who did a good number (if not all) of Yes's album cover did some design work where he tried to make houses that looked organic and blended in with the natural surroundings. Might be worth looking for some of his work.
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
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    From: on the way to Bellport

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    Sun Dec 10, 2006 5:56 pm  

    Hey Overslave. Nice subject.

    I agree with smillan_31 regarding the age and size of the Silverwood, which is one of my favorite GH locations and part of the setting of my first GH campaign.

    The Silverwood and Axewood are remnants of an ancient riparian forest that once spread from the shores of Great Sheldomar and its tributaries. While the sacred trees that give Silverwood its name are mortal, many yet live and some are close to a thousand years old, with diameters over 30'. While the trees are not so tall as those imagined for Dragonlance's town of Solace, they are plenty large for the ancient homes of the sylvan olves, which involve singing the trees to grow into the desired shapes along with thatch and other crafts to create habitations for the sylvan olves.

    Remember that the sylvan olves are not great in number, and their leaders' wisdom directs them not to overpopulate any place. Therefore, the ancient homes are not concentrated the same way as human towns but instead are gathering places for rites and other worship but otherwise sparsely secured by wardens and other caretakers while the kinbands travel their perennial journey through the forest.
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 29, 2001
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    From: Bronx, NY

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    Sun Dec 10, 2006 8:28 pm  

    Wood elves function as both hunters and ordinary warriors for the greater elven nations. Their communities are typically laid out as well camoflaged military camps, with additional space for their dependants, and support facilities. They frequently build underground as a result, both for the strength and for concealment.
    Silverwood elves, like the rest of the Duchy, are predominantly half-elves. This has led to a distinctly less "typical" elven appearance to most settlements. There is significantly more interaction and support between various communities. This has resulted in increased trade, and a significantly higher use of farm products (primarily grains and citrus) by the elves. The relaxed pressure to produce food has given the elves time to develop certain resources, and they have made significant efforts in developing a partially domesticated breed of deer (wapiti/American elk) as well as strides in the selective breeding of a dwarf oak species with "sweet" (low tannin) acorns.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:54 am  

    Cool! i like the idea of parts of the silverwood being quite ancient. considering this, and the rich alluvial soils of the riverflats makes it easier to imagine such great trees, some up to 30ft wide (can you imagine the sheer size of such a tree?!?).

    Though you mentioned the trees being "mortal" mtg, i had never considered the concept of immortal trees, and i like the idea alot. i also like the idea of some underground dwellings, perhaps something like the Elf King's hall in northern mirkwood, from 'The Hobbit', but of smaller scope.

    I am very interested to find out more about the elven town of Adurlell (march of Dunwater, noted in the Duchy of Ulek Gazetteer) in the southern silverwood, if anyone knows of any references or has ever used it in their campaign.[/i]
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    From: The Nexus

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    Tue Dec 12, 2006 5:29 am  

    You might consider looking at the Corwyl supplement, from Green Ronin IIRC. It lays out an entire wood elven community, with NPCs and backstory that is very interesting. It could be placed anywhere (I put it in the Gnarley). It has some good maps of the village, and explains how the local government works. I think it does a good job of creating the feel you are looking for.

    Theala
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 05, 2002
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    From: Sky Island, So Cal

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    Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:46 pm  

    Here's my version of a high elf city in the Vesve

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=656


    For elven dwellings in places that are more peaceful,
    I have the elves weave room-size nests (like
    giant oropendula nests) that hang from the branches
    of large trees. These nests are connected by rope ladders.
    One nest is about the size of a small room - it could be
    a dormitory, study, storage chamber, etc.

    The nests have removable internal layers of insulation
    depending on the season.

    In cases of extreme cold or storms there is an underground
    shelter in the tree roots for the old, very young, or infirm.
    _________________
    My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 13, 2006 5:27 pm  

    There was a "Map of the Week" set for tree houses on the WotC site a few years back. Might go looking for that for an idea. Other than that, if you combine hollow trunks with external rooms mounted on some good sized upper limbs you could get a fair amount of space per floor, even with a smaller trunk diamater (like 20' or so). Add some magic to hold this whole thing up and presto!
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 21, 2003
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    Sat Dec 16, 2006 10:29 am  

    For elven dwellings in places that are more peaceful,
    I have the elves weave room-size nests (like
    giant oropendula nests) that hang from the branches
    of large trees. These nests are connected by rope ladders.
    One nest is about the size of a small room - it could be
    a dormitory, study, storage chamber, etc.

    The nests have removable internal layers of insulation
    depending on the season.

    In cases of extreme cold or storms there is an underground
    shelter in the tree roots for the old, very young, or infirm.[/quote]

    I was going to sugest something similar but add in the idea of the elves weaving the trees and plants themsleves over the years to make living spaces. If I remeber correctly there is an example of things like that in the Thomas Covenant books.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 21, 2003
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    From: Perth Australia

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    Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:13 pm  

    In my 1st/2nd Edition game I ran wood elves as nomads living in small tents and making use of natural cover. The various tribes would be of extended family groups mutualy supporting each other, hunting, gathering etc, they would follow the migrating herds and live off the forest bounty. I guess I based the a lot on the Yosemite Indians, having summer and winter camps and at certian times of the year all the tribes would gather in one area to celebrate etc find new partners and trade etc etc.
    So the concept of a "fixed" village would be a particular spot used in winter because of the shelter it provided and the supply of food. Large tents made of skins and perhaps a central area of particular natural significance.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 21, 2003
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    Tue Dec 19, 2006 6:30 am  

    There's a nice article on elven settlements in Dragon 224: "Elven Cities & Settlements"

    There's also some info in the 2E Castle Guide iirc.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
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    Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:20 pm  

    These are all fantastic ideas. Elves might also build simple but elaborately carved log cabins or tree-houses that are lovingly crafted and shaped with intricate designs and formed with the help of the trees as much as carving and chopping with axes and tools.

    Another inspiration might be the type of housing the First Nations of North America built-nations like the Haida of British Columbia here in Canada built elaborate longhouses and cabins in forming their own small villages and towns, while the Iroquois Confederacy of modern Quebec and Ontario built villages and houses of sod and wood that could be easily dismantled if and when they decided to move on. Both required skilful and careful harvesting of local resources to avoid depletion, and they took steps to maximize what they did take-traits that fit very well with elven culture.

    I've often viewed the Flan as patterned after the First Nations-whether Hopi, Ojibwa, Blackfoot, Tlingit, to name but a few-with some Pictish/Celtic elements thrown in for flavor, and it stands to reason that the Flan could either have adopted this architecture through cultural intermingling with the elves, or the elves could have adopted it from them.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:55 pm  

    Yes, thanks for the great response, still not sure how to handle the village, I want to consider it carefully- once the characters visit it initially, it's set in stone, and I don't want to get stuck with some lamo concept that I thought was great at the time, but I groan at every time I see it in the future. I've always liked the concept of the warhammer wood elves, they are so distinct from high elves that it is immediately noticeable, while i think that greyhawk tends to lump sylvan and high elves together sometimes (and I have trouble coping with the idea that wood elves where leggings!)

    I like your concept of the flan folk, CSL; I had always pictured them as perhaps as ancient as beakerfolk -like people, living in simple hillforts and building cromlechs and stone monuments in parody of the wood elves, whom they were previosly (pre-suel) very close to (almost like the relationship between the ancient ancient suel and their grey elven masters). Of course the flan are less ambitious, and until recent times in previous ideas I have developed, they were still in awe of Iron, thinking it "spirit metal".
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
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    From: Canada

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    Tue Dec 19, 2006 7:16 pm  

    Overslave wrote:


    I like your concept of the flan folk, CSL; I had always pictured them as perhaps as ancient as beakerfolk -like people, living in simple hillforts and building cromlechs and stone monuments in parody of the wood elves, whom they were previosly (pre-suel) very close to (almost like the relationship between the ancient ancient suel and their grey elven masters). Of course the flan are less ambitious, and until recent times in previous ideas I have developed, they were still in awe of Iron, thinking it "spirit metal".


    Well, one thing I've always considered is how the presence of dwarves, elves, orcs and other non-human creatures might influence the cultural development of various human races. I personally believe that, just like humans, the major demihuman and humanoid races are also spread all around the world, and as such, all the human cultures have access to metalsmithing and steel weapons and armor, including cultures patterned after African/American cultures that did not have such skills in real life.

    They get this skill from contact with dwarves and gnomes, trading things like furs, vegetables and other goods for steel weapons and armor. It'd be a lot like the North American fur trade in real life, only instead of guns they get swords, and instead of dealing with Europeans, they deal with dwarves.

    These weapons will be adapted to their technology-wandering Flan that are constantly moving around and rely on speed when hunting buffalo, aurochs, or other large herd animals will certainly use steel arrowheads and metal swords in war and on the hunt, but they might spurn metal armor because it puts too much of a burden on their horses, makes too much noise to be useful in guerilla warfare or hunting, or they simply lack the resources to properly oil and care for the armor. They might take care of their swords and spears with oil extracted from sallow-seeds or something like that, but it's not enough to patch up their armor the way Oeridians or Suel do.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 23, 2006 9:10 am  

    The fur trade in this country during the colonial period is a fascinating subject and definitly worth learning more about. I have always envisioned the wood elves being like the Woodlands Indians. However I don't think they would be dumb enough to stop getting anything but alcohol for thier furs.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    From: The Nexus

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    Sun Dec 24, 2006 7:00 pm  

    vonbek wrote:
    The fur trade in this country during the colonial period is a fascinating subject and definitly worth learning more about. I have always envisioned the wood elves being like the Woodlands Indians. However I don't think they would be dumb enough to stop getting anything but alcohol for thier furs.


    No, but they might take tanbrash Wink

    Theala
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