My default for when thinking of RPGs is D&D. I’ve been playing it for more than 40 years. It makes sense, no? The thing is, you would imagine that, when one thinks of Dungeons & Dragons, the setting that would spring to mind would be, naturally, a dungeon. I mean, it’s in the bloody name. It even comes first. But. no, not for me. When I think of D&D, my first thought goes to the forest.
Maybe it’s because I grew up spending a lot of time in the woods?
When I imagine an adventuring party, I see them in the forest. The ranger has crafted a shelter from brush and fallen limbs. The party sits huddled around a campfire, carefully tended, to fend off wild animals and those far more sinister spirits that make the woods their home. They drink. They eat. They tell stories. And they set up watch, mindful of those things that prowl the deep forest at night.
In fantasy, forests tend to be dark places with exotic names that stick with you — like Mirkwood, the Trollshaws, the Forbidden Forest, Ghostwood, and the like.
There is something about forests that calls to me. By day, they are joyful habitats, meant to be traversed on hikes and hunting trips, but by night they become haunted and malicious, fraught with peril at every turn.
I simply adore the woodlands. I like to explore game trails, examine trees and plants and fungi and wildlife. I love to build shelters, collect firewood and scavenge edibles, and simply spend as much time out in nature as I possibly can, especially if it involves sitting around a campfire telling tall tales. There is something altogether magical about the woods, something that speaks to that spark of early man that still lingers deep within us.
For me, life imitates art. I like to live in the woods, be it for real or in my imagination. That just how magical forests are, that they occupy my every desire. Hell, even my favorite things in all the world — books — are intricately tied to the woods.
I could spend all my days and nights within them.
The spookier the better.