Saturday, 16 November 2019

The Heather Sea

I am writing a real book (don't get too excited - it's an academic monograph) and it's getting close to the deadline. This means I am working on it almost constantly. At the end of each day I am creatively spent. This has made blogging ideas slow to come if at all, and has rendered my desire to blog almost nonexistent.

The best way to remedy this is probably not to post a campaign-setting idea, which people don't usually read or comment on, on a Saturday when nobody reads blogs in the first place. But here goes.

While out walking last week in the hills I struck off the beaten trails and headed out across a wide expanse of heather moorland on something of a wild goose chase in search of what my ordnance survey map suggested were some caves. This led me across this kind of landscape (excuse the use of a naff stock photo):




It felt not unlike wading across a very wide pond interspersed with stepping stones of granite. You basically pick your way from hunk of rock to hunk of rock (which retreating glaciers deposited long ago) by striding uncertainly amidst thick, bouncy, thigh-deep fragrant heather. The heather often bears your weight, but also has a tendency to treacherously give way so that your foot plunges down into sodden mud underneath. It's a pain in the arse to cross, but also a good work out. 

It also made me imagine what that landscape would be like if it was blown up to a scale 100 or 1000 times bigger than it really is. Each hunk of granite would not be merely a convenient place for somebody to stand for a moment to get their bearings, but big enough for buildings, even towns, even cities, to be built on (or inside). The heather sea would be a deep, dark, impenetrable mega-forest which the rock-dwellers would dread to cross, and which would they would never enter except as outlaws or madmen. Passage from rock to rock might be done through trained birds or other fliers, or possibly by enlisting giants or other gargantuan beasts capable of walking across the ocean of vegetation in between. 




Maybe different types of heather would bloom in different colours, and their fragrant pollen washing over the landscape would create different magical effects. Maybe the only time any rock-dweller would venture into that landscape would be to try to harvest that pollen. Maybe they would raise giant bees or other insects to harvest it for them, and to make use of the honey.

And maybe those big hunks of granite would contain mineral deposits. And maybe dwarves and derro and other subterranean beings would burrow up from the underdark so as to mine the giant rocks from underneath. Maybe the rock-dwellers would find themselves living atop networks of burrows filled with wonders to explore.

Maybe that would be a fun campaign setting to run a game in.

18 comments:

  1. Can I steal this as inspiration for a Three Hex blog post? This is really awesome!

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    1. Thanks! I would rather you didn't if that's ok. I have half a mind to do something with it myself.

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    2. Absolutely! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

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  2. I do comment. This good. Post posts even on Saturday! Ragh.

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  3. What's the real book about? Sorry, curious!

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    1. It is a very idiosyncratic and probably ill-advised take on critical theory and human rights.

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  4. This captures about my thoughts about walking through heather pretty well. Especially at night. Fighting something dwarf or goblin sized in thigh-high heather sounds a unpleasant prospect.

    I'm fairly certain heather honey is a fairly popular product for what something so specific - the notion of magical honey or mead certainly has resonance (especially if you dial up the Pseudo-Celtic themes).

    (The book sounds good.)

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  5. ==[My boring book] has made blogging ideas slow to come if at all, and has rendered my desire to blog almost nonexistent.

    Please keep working on your books.

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    1. ==Kent, I will fight you any time using my nature skills acquired from walks in nature, and listening to my my wife who is a vegan and reads comic books where women are very dangerous fighting men. My wife tells me all I have to do is use mental astrological power to suggest that you kent are womanish and weak, and then you will apologise for being slow to admire my husband's talents.

      For some metaphysical irreal reason I feel obliged to admire Noisms, his wife, his friends, and all of his D&D works, unironically.

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  6. I believe as young lad wandering the North Yorkshire Moors I may have had this very fit of make-believe. Definitely gameable - and subsequently stolen.

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  7. I have had much the same feeling, I think, when traipsing across a reedy fen in the upper midwest, though my "solid ground" was rather colonies of low quaking aspen and woods of pine and buckthorn than high and solitary boulders (though I think it would have been better with all of the above). The aspen seems particularly gameable: a whole forest which is one tree, connected at the roots, seems just the place for elves and such. I think it wouldn't be out of place in the setting you've described

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    1. Yes, it definitely wouldn't. There might be a connection between this and my old dungeon-as-a-giant-tree idea.

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  8. Much cooler than the Stacey and Brittany sea.

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