I’ve always been enraptured by the notion of an “enchanted forest.” From the earliest moments of creating Chaldea, this was one of the first topics I put my heart into. In particular, what does it mean for a forest to be enchanted? And what would cause it to be that way?
I didn’t want it to be strictly evil or monstrous. Nor did I want it to be entirely peaceful and idyllic. I wanted it to be magical, a place where, yes, there would be magical creatures: noble fey, not-so-noble fey, giant talking spiders, dragons, and critters like lizard men and bugbears. It would have a horrific swamp in there somewhere, which of course meant a river. But I also wanted there to be something about the forest that would attract practitioners of the arcane arts: druids, magicians, high elves, and even priests.
And this forest would be unique within Chaldea. There would be other forests, but one forest would be special; the Garnon Forest was beginning to take form.
I honestly don’t understand the creative process. But somehow I had this idea to link the forest to Yggdrasil, the World Tree from Norse mythology. Like all ideas, this seemed obvious after the fact. If Yggdrasil connects the world of Chaldea to the other worlds, where does that connection happen? I mean, is there a physical place in Chaldea where Yggdrasil actually “connects”? Obviously there wouldn’t have to be—the connection could be more metaphysical, less literal. But it also could be! So, what if The Garnon Forest were the location in Chaldea where the World Tree connects?
Well, that seemed like a fun idea, so I ran with it.
Suddenly, all sorts of other concepts fell into place. Wow—if this is the place where Yggdrasil connects to Chaldea, it would be rich in life, with lots of weird dimensional shit going on, and it would all be magical, right? Hell, I could justify most anything with this idea!
Back to the mystery of the creative process. Once you start going down a path like this, it opens up so many new ideas. Like, if a special tree can be the home to a dryad, what sort of creature might Yggdrasil be home to? And is there a visible sign of Yggdrasil’s connection to Chaldea, like a huge root arching through the sky? Would there be wild dimensional phenomena here? What sorts of cults would emerge based on all of this?
Even now, as I reminisce about this, I can’t help but imagine new possibilities!
Peter D. Adkison
September 28, 2015