What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

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What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Chimpman » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:49 pm

What did the Sylvan Realm look like when Ilsundal first arrived there? Ilsundal settled the area circa BC 2100, and the reason that I ask is twofold: 1) The Sylvan Realm is a much higher latitude than the Known World. 2) Many Gaz Histories list receding continental ice sheets anywhere from BC 2500 to BC 800.

So, in particular, how cold was the Sylvan Realm when Ilsundal arrived? Ilsundal would have arrived there 400 years after the continental ice sheets begin to recede from the Northern Realms and Rockhome (still quite a ways south of the elves). Is there any historical information given in any of the adventure modules that deal with the Sylvan Realm (most of which I am unfortunately lacking)?
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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Hugin » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:45 pm

Temperatures could be moderated considerably by the Ocean. The Sylvan Realm is on the west coast with mountains to the east so it would be very similar to Canada's west coast. The mountains would also have provided excellent protection for the elves since they'd be heavily glaciated still.

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Chimpman » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:12 pm

Hugin wrote:Temperatures could be moderated considerably by the Ocean. The Sylvan Realm is on the west coast with mountains to the east so it would be very similar to Canada's west coast. The mountains would also have provided excellent protection for the elves since they'd be heavily glaciated still.
That's an excellent point. So the western coast of Brun would probably be the first area of the continent to "thaw out", making it prime real estate for the elves. It could also make the western coast very disputed territory as well, as all kinds of barbarians swarm in from the south or from over the mountains.
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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:17 pm

The only module that deals with the Sylvan Realm is CM7: Tree of Life. It doesn't really have much information about the history of the land, aside from it being conquered by Moorkroft and causing the Feadiel clan to flee to Alfheim. Not really surprising, considering the module predates the Gazetteer series (and the fleshing out of the timeline of the Known World.)
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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Birchbeer » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:27 pm

I think it may have looked like the coast of modern day Alaska, warmed by the ocean's currents. If you need some more warmth, you could say it has hot springs like Yellowstone, with geysers and such.

Though if the Sylvan Realm was like Yellowstone... it also meant it is sitting on top of a giant mega volcano.

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Havard » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:39 pm

Perhaps part of the reason why Ilsundal chose to settle on that very spot was that it had not yet been discovered by any of the barbarian tribes?

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Hugin » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:09 pm

Chimpman wrote:That's an excellent point. So the western coast of Brun would probably be the first area of the continent to "thaw out", making it prime real estate for the elves. It could also make the western coast very disputed territory as well, as all kinds of barbarians swarm in from the south or from over the mountains.
Another thing to consider is that, pre-GRoF, the Sylvan Realm was not that much farther north (i.e. closer to Ethengar) than Blackmoor was. Given that, it wasn't likely to have been overly cold there anyways.

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Chimpman » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:28 pm

Hugin wrote:
Chimpman wrote:That's an excellent point. So the western coast of Brun would probably be the first area of the continent to "thaw out", making it prime real estate for the elves. It could also make the western coast very disputed territory as well, as all kinds of barbarians swarm in from the south or from over the mountains.
Another thing to consider is that, pre-GRoF, the Sylvan Realm was not that much farther north (i.e. closer to Ethengar) than Blackmoor was. Given that, it wasn't likely to have been overly cold there anyways.
Were there elves living there pre-GRoF?
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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Hugin » Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:21 pm

Chimpman wrote:
Hugin wrote:Another thing to consider is that, pre-GRoF, the Sylvan Realm was not that much farther north (i.e. closer to Ethengar) than Blackmoor was. Given that, it wasn't likely to have been overly cold there anyways.
Were there elves living there pre-GRoF?
I don't think so officially, though I've suggested that there was a trading/resupply port there mainly consisting of elves. I have it as being established due to the trade route between Blackmoor and the "southern elves" as mentioned in the Hollow World set. This provided me the rationale to say that Ilsunal's migration route was determined because he was looking for 'lost' elven communities, the final one he searched for being the post that he transformed into the Sylvan Realm.

But whether you have elves there before the Great Rain of Fire or not, the main point was that it was certainly very habitable even during that time.

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Havard » Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:10 pm

Hugin wrote:I don't think so officially, though I've suggested that there was a trading/resupply port there mainly consisting of elves. I have it as being established due to the trade route between Blackmoor and the "southern elves" as mentioned in the Hollow World set. This provided me the rationale to say that Ilsunal's migration route was determined because he was looking for 'lost' elven communities, the final one he searched for being the post that he transformed into the Sylvan Realm.

But whether you have elves there before the Great Rain of Fire or not, the main point was that it was certainly very habitable even during that time.
Possibly. We know that there were elves on the northern continent before the GRoF (The ancestors of the Wendar Elves, Geffronel and Shadowelves/Shattenalfen). But many of them could have been corrupted by Blackmoor's dependence on technology (Blacklore), which is something Ilsundal would have wanted to stay away from.

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Hugin » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:48 pm

Havard wrote:But many of them could have been corrupted by Blackmoor's dependence on technology (Blacklore), which is something Ilsundal would have wanted to stay away from.

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Indeed, but after the fail of technology, Ilsundal may have desired to find the survivors and return them to their sylvan roots. At least, that's how I envision Ilsundal's migration and motivations in part.

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by agathokles » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:51 pm

I'd assume the Sylvan Realms was untouched by the Blackmoor "taint". Blackmoorian Elves may have arrived in most places where Blackmoor had colonies, of course, but the western coast of Brun might have been unsettled at the time.

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:49 pm

I'd tend to agree with the non-Tech Taint notion; that's Ilsundal and the Returnists' final settling point. I'd assume they would have chosen a spot that had been well isolated from any of Blackmoor's technomagical pollutants for the very reason that that is what they were attempting to escape, to return to a more pastoralist culture. Having to clean up any remnants of same before settling down would seem to me to be beside the point.
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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Hugin » Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:33 pm

Just as a note, I don't see the trading post as being a centre of technology either. I envision it as being a small port community that resupplies and trades with the sailing ships that traveled between Blackmoor and the Southern Elves. In fact, as technology increased in Blackmoor, this port would've become less and less needed, becoming a bit of a backwater place. I can't recall off-hand what I wrote before but I think I had little to no elves remaining when Ilsundal arrived. If the place had been technological when he came and the elves didn't convert to his philosophy, I believe he would have moved on.

Again, that's just in my version of things.

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Chimpman » Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:57 pm

Wow, good ideas here! Just for the record, I don't think the two things are mutually exclusive. The way I see it, when Ilsundal left Vulcania to find somewhere to start over (without the Taint of Technology) he did so with one of two plans

1) He had no idea where he was going, but knew he had to get out of Vulcania... so he just meandered around until he found something that looked good.

-OR-

2) He had some preconceived notion of where to go, probably based on information he found while still in Vulcania (perhaps pointing to some long abandoned elven outpost, or an elven colony he knew never embraced Blackmoor, or somewhere the immortals "told him to go".)

There's no doubt in my mind that along the way, if he found other elven refugees, he would try to persuade them to join his cause... and that also might mean that he chose his path to put him in contact with as many other elven settlements as possible. There's also no doubt in my mind that he wouldn't allow any form of technology to taint his new homeland (wherever and whenever he found it).
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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by LoZompatore » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:46 pm

Notice that in CM1 the Sylvan Realm is on a volcanic spot (geysers and the like), so I suppose the climate could be much warmer with respect to its latitude.

A few additional info about the Sylvan Realm are also in the Dragonlord Trilogy (which is set around AC 500). Three-four days of travel north (on foot on mountain paths) there is an old Blackmoorish fortress called Dragonwatch Keep (now a temple of the Old One).

Here are the relevant sections:

The elves appeared to be of a different breed than the frail, delicate elves of Alfheim. They were small, but heartier of build, almost stocky by elven standards, brown-skinned and black-haired. The gear of the soldiers was rather fanciful, in a way that appeared primitive.

I am Pardein, tender of the Tree of Life. You must be trusted by the elves of Alfheim, since only they could have commanded the Path of the Rainbow to appear for you. Even so, I must ask why you have come.

As it turned out, their guide was a young centaur. From the very first, the centaur proved to be much more friendly and pleasant company than the elves.
"These forests belonged to us long before the elves came," explained Cerran, a strong stallion with white coat and hair, as they followed the trails through the deep woods. "At least the elves don't forget their gratitude. I suppose that we're their friends, as far as anyone is allowed to be. It's hard for anyone to be their friends when they don't even like themselves."


They left the deep woods of the Sylvan Realm behind that first day, moving quickly into the foothills of the tall, rugged mountains beyond. There were no proper roads or paths leading into the mountains, for this was wild, uninhabited land. Only elves lived in this part of the world, and they journeyed into the mountains only rarely. But there were game trails, which often ran as straight and true as any path, and Cerran knew these well. The Hyborean Reach was a line of coastal mountains, towering peaks of gray stone, and deep, sheer valleys cut by rivers of ice. This was also a northern land. Spring was still early in this frigid land, even though it was approaching summer in the lands they had recently left behind. The higher places were still cold, especially at night.
They rode that first day among the low ridges and hills, camping that night in a shallow depression between a jumble of great boulders.


I am to lead you into the far north," she explained. "In perhaps another day, we will come to the Citadel of the Ancients, which is also known as Dragonwatch Keep. This is where the armor and weapons of the Dragonlord have awaited your corning for nearly four thousand years. Dragonwatch Keep is the last of the hidden fortresses of Blackmoor...
Now he was to be granted the rare privilege of seeing Dragonwatch Keep, the only known edifice of the Blackmoor era known to survive, and known only to the dragons at that.

When they came to a high place, Kharendaen was able to point out their destination, a large, sturdy fortress clinging to a ledge on a distant peak

At first glance, Dragonwatch Keep seemed to be a large but fairly ordinary fortress, with the walls and high, slender towers rather elegantly constructed of large blocks of polished blue-white stone. While there were some facilities such as the stables for the convenience of visitors, it seemed clear that it had never been intended to house an actual garrison. In spite of the keep's tremendous age, and its vulnerability to the storms and winds and bitter cold of the northern mountains, it seemed relatively untouched by time.
"You say that the dragons have always known of this place," Perrantin said, turning to Kharendaen. "Do they know what it used to be?"
Kharendaen shook her head slowly. "The original name and purpose of the Citadel of the Ancients is unknown, but it seems to have been built by the wizards of Blackmoor to serve as a safe, remote place to keep some of their most powerful creations, things they probably did not dare to keep in inhabited regions. Since everything except the armor of the Dragonlord was removed, it is possible one was the very device that destroyed Blackmoor."
"But how could this place have survived the destruction of Blackmoor and the Rain of Fire, when nothing else in the world did?" the mage asked, insatiable in his curiosity.
"We do know something of that secret," she told him. "This citadel was originally protected by very powerful magic, the exact means long since forgotten. Perhaps it was magically shielded with impenetrable barriers."


Hope they could help! :)

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Havard » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:08 pm

Ilsundal's Quest has always reminded me of Cutter's Quest from the ElfQuest graphic novels, which seemed to have a great impact on Gaz5 in general. If you dont know ElfQuest, Cutter's group of elves originally set out simply to escape an attack by Humans. Later it becomes a Quest to find all the Elven Tribes, which in turn ends up becoming the quest to find the ancestral elves known as the High Ones.

Ilsunda's Quest is a little different since his project is a kind of return to nature type quest, although I see his quest as being in the same spirit. It also seems to have different stages. The first part, which is getting to the Sylvan Realm could be more of a "We just need to get far away from here" type thing as in your example 1).

The second part of the Quest is when Mealiden leaves for the Known World. At this point I think he is definately looking for other elves, probably the elves that travelled to Blackmoor. OTOH, this could have been Ilsundal's goal originally as well, but that he chose a wrong path. OR, Mealiden's reasoning may have been that so long after the GRoF he wanted to help elves, who now likely had abandoned technology anyway.

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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Chimpman » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:25 pm

Thanks Zomp, that's a lot of good information!

Well... that blows the theories right out of the water. Just 3 or 4 days north of the Sylvan Realm is an ancient Blackmoorian outpost. So much for Ilsundal shunning the "Taint" of technology. This kind of information almost says that he knew exactly where he was going... and maybe chose that location to safe-guard whatever was in the Citadel and prevent its escape back into the world...
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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Zendrolion » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:16 pm

Hugin wrote:
Chimpman wrote:
Hugin wrote:Another thing to consider is that, pre-GRoF, the Sylvan Realm was not that much farther north (i.e. closer to Ethengar) than Blackmoor was. Given that, it wasn't likely to have been overly cold there anyways.
Were there elves living there pre-GRoF?
I don't think so officially, though I've suggested that there was a trading/resupply port there mainly consisting of elves. I have it as being established due to the trade route between Blackmoor and the "southern elves" as mentioned in the Hollow World set. This provided me the rationale to say that Ilsunal's migration route was determined because he was looking for 'lost' elven communities, the final one he searched for being the post that he transformed into the Sylvan Realm.

But whether you have elves there before the Great Rain of Fire or not, the main point was that it was certainly very habitable even during that time.
Of course this depens on wheter you use HW's Outer World Precataclysmic map or the "Known World was the precataclysmic North Pole" option. In the former case, it's quite clear that the Sylvan Realm area is quite uninhabited, far away from Blackmoor and likely of any technological influence.

In the latter case, the Sylvan Realm area happen to be more or less at an European-degree latitude, and makes an excellent spot for an Evergrunian trading post/small colony. Given the vicinity of Dragonwatch Keep, the colony should sit on the fringes of the Blackmoor Empire, and it could have been the supply base through which the elves went to colonize the area near future Wendar, further north (possibly this could be linked with the Blackmoorian crusade against Beastmen).

Personally, I like more the idea that Ilsundal was going to retrieve all lost colonies of elves still surviving after the GRoF. Obviously, as the planet's axis had changed its inclination after the cataclysm, and the stars with it, it'd have been very difficult to understand where the old colonies where - and that's the reason for his apparently erratical migration. But it'd seem very strange to me if the savior of elven people led the elves in that far-away spot if he hadn't a precise reason to do it - that is, find the last surviving group of elves.
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Re: What did the Sylvan Realm Look like?

Post by Hugin » Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:39 pm

Zendrolion wrote:Personally, I like more the idea that Ilsundal was going to retrieve all lost colonies of elves still surviving after the GRoF. Obviously, as the planet's axis had changed its inclination after the cataclysm, and the stars with it, it'd have been very difficult to understand where the old colonies where - and that's the reason for his apparently erratical migration. But it'd seem very strange to me if the savior of elven people led the elves in that far-away spot if he hadn't a precise reason to do it - that is, find the last surviving group of elves.
Exactly! :ugeek:

(I use the "Known World was the precataclysmic North Pole" option.)

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