The Gnarley Forest is an ancient forest full of immense trees. In most places, the tree canopy blocks out most light, resulting in little ground vegetation, making the forest floor easy to walk. These areas are almost like parkland, save for the presence of much rotted timber and trees felled by age or storm scattered across the ground.
Only a small portion of the Gnarley is claimed by Greyhawk. The great bulk of the forest, lying westward, is claimed by Celene, although Dyvers lays claim to some northern fringes of the forest as does Verbobonc to the west. Celene protects its borders fairly zealously and lays claim to virtually all of the Welkwood to the south (all land west of the Jewel river).
Greyhawk extracts little in the way of tax or tithe from the Gnarley, save from the frontier villages close to the Plains of Greyhawk and the Wild Coast. Rather, its militias patrol in order to make friends among the folk of the forest and to watch for Pomarj invaders heading northward.
To the west, a great central swath of the forest consists of wooded hill land, where the eastern spur of the Kron Hills enters the Gnarley. Tree cover here is rather less dense and there are many secluded, fertile glades and valleys. The hills rise gently, with long, stretching undulations growing steeper as they rise to the west.
The Gnarley hills have fairly poor mineral resources in the area covered on the campaign map, although a handful of mines within 20 miles or so of Namburil yield chrysoberyls and peridots, together with some fine quartz and tiger eye agates. Most of the superior gems are found to the west.
The Gnarley is surprisingly old. In its deepest recesses, treants and hostile lyrannikin repel those not of the forest themselves. There is an almost tangible aura of magic in such places, and the faerie folk and elves here do not welcome intruders, no matter what their intentions. Likewise, some buried secrets in the Gnarley are of great antiquity, and rich with the history of Oerik—and, not rarely, redolent of its greatest evils to boot.
Flora and Fauna of the Gnarley Forest
The Gnarley Forest is predominantly a mixture of oak and ipp trees, growing side by side throughout the length and breadth of the wood. Their broad branches spread the leaf) canopy well overhead, but those same branches offer easy climbing. So much so, that one can move through the wood 30 or 40 feet off the ground simply by passing from the horizontal branches of one tree to those of the next.
Several groves of dekla trees have claimed their space here, crowding the lesser trees aside as they soar. sometimes 120 feet high, above the rest of the forest. Their massive trunks take as much space as a small cottage. The gnarled roots have made the ground within these dekla groves a twisting surface of hummocks and swales.
The only other commonly growing plant is the yarpick, or daggerthorn. Yarpicks are more common to the east, where their nuts are harvested by woodsmen and sold by the bushel.
Naturally, the clumps of this nasty vegetation are rarely penetrated by woodsmen. Every autumn, however, the children of the woods people are sent to the outer fringes of the yarpick clumps, there to gather the rotted fruit of the trees. The bitter pulp Is discarded, but the seed of the yarpick fruit – a nut the size of a plum- is nourishing. tasty, and keeps very well. A bushel of these nuts fetches one to two gp in the Greyhawk High or Low Market, depending on their availability.
Ferns are found aplenty along the borders of the Jewel and Serault rivers, and thick moss and fungi grow on many rotted timbers and some old trees. Mossy stumps are everywhere. often resembling furry green statues. Wild flowers bloom here in the spring, summer, and fall.
Flowering plants are not common, but the beautiful ivory-blossom (a white-petaled, orchid-like plant) makes up in quality for what the forest lacks in quantity of bloom. In the hills, bluebells and crocuses provide a riot of color in areas with thinner tree cover. The buds of the white-petaled ivory-blossom only grows in the heart of the forest. When they do, the blossom lasts for only 7-14 days. However, they bring as much as 10 gp apiece (for fresh, undamaged flowers) in the Greyhawk High Market. A single individual, in the heart of the wood during blooming time, might come upon 2 – 10 blossoms in a single day of searching. Of course, the likelihood of an unpleasant encounter is high as well.
Typical small mammals and birds can be found in the Gnarley—mice, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, and the like. Bears, wolves and predatory giant spiders offer more in the way of threat. The more common monsters include owlbears, giant beetles, and humanoids.
- Elves of the Gnarley Forest
- Woodsmen of the Gnarley Forest
- Gnomes of the Gnarley Forest
- Rangers of the Gnarley Forest
- Swanmays of the Gnarley Forest
- Druids of the Gnarley Forest
The Greyhawk patrols are almost friendship missions at this stage (585 CY). They visit woodsmen, receiving hospitality and asking if help is needed (this may involve rooting out ores, helping construct traps and deadfalls, providing healing from the priest, and on one famous occasion, delivering a baby – an act that resulted in the helper being known as “The Midwife” to his chuckling friends). They are also spying, of course, eager to learn of any course, eager to learn of any change in the usual balance within the forest, especially any unusual activity by humanoids heading north from the Welkwood.
The militia don’t force their attentions where they’re not wanted, and avoid wood elves in particular. In the eastern fringes, at Five Oaks and also at Tricaster, where the communities are sizable enough to pay taxes, there are groups of militia (20 at each village) who enforce the law. Hunting ne’er-do-wells from the Wild Coast is the province of the Headhunters at Narwell, however.
Settlements in the Gnarley Forest
- Camps Adalaorn and Greenleaf
- Carter’s Meadow
- Fern Groves
- Five Oaks
- Ketter’s Hearth
- Ruby Falls
Other Sites in the Gnarley Forest
- Bad Deep
- Canryell’s Well
- The Imeryds Run
- Lair of Chaustichlorinus
- Lord Lockswell’s Manor
- Twilight Falls
- Vren Tog
- The Wailing Halls
- Zendrelda’s Tower