The Gamboge Forest is home to a mixed community of some 10,500 wood elves, 1,300 high elves, 6,000 humans and 2,800 gnomes. The wood elves occupy the deepest heartlands of the forest, with a handful of high elf and gnomish settlements among them. They do not care for humans sharing their lands and they drive them off with traps, snares and warning volleys of arrow fire when they approach too closely. The wood elves have been approached by the gnomes of the Flinty Hills for help, and have been seen in the wooded part of the Flinty Hills. There at least the two races appear to cooperate to help each other defend the lands, though the wood elves do not venture into unwooded hills.
History during the reign of Archbold I: The woodsmen of the Gamboge, like all the races, give fealty neither to Nyrond nor the Pale, but they prefer the traditional tolerance of Nyrond‘s rulers and most of the forest produce is traded to Nyrond. Fortunately, Archbold did not make the same mistake here that he did with the Celadon, possibly due to the sound advice of Borneven’s local ruler. For this reason, Gamboge forest produce is sold to Nyrond at fairly cheap prices and this effective subsidy is vital to the kingdom. The tubers, nuts and berries of the Gamboge helped northern folk get through a winter which otherwise might have meant starvation. The northern Nyrond folk know and respect this. Few would emulate their western compatriots in looting the forest,
though one or two desperate people are just beginning to do so of late.
However, while relations between the communities of the Gamboge and local Nyrond folk are fair, there is bitterness in the hearts of many woodsmen against the distant and seemingly uncaring rulers of the land in Rel Mord. Some 1,000 Gamboge men fought in Nyrond’s cause during the wars, and many supported the gnomes of the Flinty Hills when the Bone March humanoids came pouring from the east. From the gnomes, the woodsmen have had gifts of silver, gems and ore in return for their help. From the king of Nyrond, nothing. And now, still, these men support Nyrond with the fruits of the forest, and little thanks comes their way yet. There is no love of the king here.
Menaces of the Forest: The Gamboge is a dangerous place indeed. Ogres and hobgoblins are both indigenous to the forest, and to the east more humanoids, including some gnolls, goblins, and especially orcs, are filtering into the woodlands from the Bone March and across the Rakers.
The western fringes of the woods are home to desperate bandits, mostly men from the Bandit Kingdoms who managed to flee this far eastward, but also a few from Nyrond itself who have taken to a life of banditry in the face of hardship. For this reason, all the Gamboge races patrol their lands and the fringes of their settlements. High elves, gnomes and woodsmen tend to cooperate and share what they have learned on their patrols. The wood elves do not, outside of their limited contact with the gnomes.
The evil intruders into the Gamboge Forest are badly organized and chaotic. No dominating, intelligent evil foe faces the Gamboge peoples, and for this reason this woodland is not faced with the possibility of inexorable defeat by malign, magic wielding evil forces in the way the Vesve Forest may be.
One of the consequences of these infiltrations into the forest is that woodsmen in particular have begun to draw back into an increasing number of small hamlet settlements, clearing areas of some 100-150 yards radius and building stockades around groups of wooden cabins. There are many fewer small groups of perhaps two or three families living together in the Gamboge in isolated glades than previously, although many still live this way simply because they have always done so and they’re not going to be driven away from their homes.
In the safer areas of the forest, such small communities still thrive from hunting and gathering. The woodsmen keep a few hives of bees for honey, and use dead wood for fuel and charcoal.
Forest Locations: There are no substantial settlements within the Gamboge Forest, and no base of forest rangers like those found in the Gnarley, Vesve, or Celadon Forests. There are, however, small groups of Brothers of the Bronze among the new settlements which are springing up. In the Gamboge, members of this group train woodsmen in fighting skills, bring in weapons for folk to defend themselves, and even attend to such mundane business as teaching the children of the woodsmen about the wars, the great forests of the Flanaess, and the need for woodsmen of different lands to ally with each other. The Brothers go quietly about their work, but their contribution to morale and a sense of community among the people of the forest is considerable.
The Gamboge has a few reputed evil ruins, dangerous haunts, and sunken temples of vile goblinoid gods, but in truth these are few compared with the Gnarley or Vesve forests. Outside of the goblinoids and their vile, brutish deities and shamans, there has not been a history of evil stalking these woodlands.