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Forests of Mystaraby Thorfinn Tait
Forests of Mystara: evergreen or deciduous?
When GAZ3 was made, they had created the forested hills hex, but evergreen forest hexes weren't invented until a few years later. GAZ6 Rockhome, GAZ7 The Northern Reaches, GAZ11 Darokin and the Dawn of the Emperors boxed set all also suffered from this, as did the Hollow World set. It seems that HWR3 The Milenian Empire was probably the first appearance of evergreen forest hexes. This leaves the question of exactly which forests in these countries/locations are evergreen, and which are deciduous.
We can derive some answers to this question from the books themselves, which sometimes talk about forests in their "Geography of" sections.
Wrath of the Immortals dealt with this to some extent with its 24 miles per hex map, showing us that the forests of the Northern Reaches, Heldann and Wendar are fully evergreen. It also shows the northern Darokin forest (next to the Broken Lands) as well as Glantri's forests (what little show up on a 24 mile per hex map, that is) as evergreen. Rockhomes forests are too small to show up on the map. Lastly, the forests of the main Alphatian continent are entirely evergreen.
Champions of Mystara continues this by showing the edge of Hule's Darkwood as being (mostly) evergreen.
Finally, Poor Wizard's Almanacs I and III show us the divide between deciduous and evergreen on the Isle of Dawn, Bellissaria and Western Skothar. Poor Wizard's Almanac II shows us Hule's Darkwood and the Isle of Dawn again, while leaving the Northern Reaches with deciduous trees - presumably a mapping error.
Page 7 of GAZ3 explains in detail the types of trees that grow in Glantri. Basically, the trees of Erewan and Belcadiz are oak, while the rest are mostly a mix of evergreen trees. Combined with the information from the Wrath of the Immortals map, we can safely say that aside from the Elven oaks, all of the forests marked on Glantri's 8 mile per hex map are evergreen.
Page 47 of GAZ6 tells us about Rockhome's trees, but it is somewhat ambiguous. It says that Rockhome's mountains are heavily forested, mostly with pines, but for the lowlands it fails to mention the type of tree. Considering Rockhome's latitude, it could go either way, but it seems that it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that most of Rockhome's forests are evergreen, and to mark Rockhome's forest hexes as such.
The Northern Reaches
Page 8 of GAZ7 suggests that the slopes of the Makkres and Hardanger Mountains are covered in conifers, while the rest of the forests are mixed conifer-broadleaf forests. It sounds like these forests could be marked as either deciduous or evergreen - it could go either way. Wrath of the Immortals marked them as evergreen.
I couldn't find any information in the Darokin Gazetteer about forest types. If we are to take Wrath's map at face value, then it would appear that the Broken Lands' Black Hills, and adjoining hills in Darokin, are coniferous forested hills.
I couldn't find any evidence in Dawn of the Emperors about forest types, though I may have missed something as there is a lot to look through. The altitude would seem to support most of the continent's forests being evergreen, as the Wrath of the Immortals map suggests.
As noted above, Alphatia's forests are apparently entirely evergreen. It seems to fit with the latitude. Any thoughts?
According to all the official maps, these islands are deciduous forest. However, Dawn of the Emperors Book I, page 61: "All are hilly islands with poor soil and tough, durable tracts of pine forest." Hmmm... These islands are situated around the 30 degrees North line, mostly further south than Ierendi and Minrothad. That should make them rather warm. Added to that, the islands are not particularly high. It seems much more likely their forests would be deciduous.
The Poor Wizard's Almanac actually confirms this, noting that the Alatians have "some tropical trees for shade and fruit".
The Wrath of the Immortals map shows all the forests as deciduous, but only shows the western part of the continent. Poor Wizard's Almanac I has just two 72 mile hexes of forests in northern Notrion evergreen, and the rest deciduous. It sounds reasonable given the latitude.
The Poor Wizard's Almanac shows the whole peninsula with evergreen forests. Poor Wizard's Almanac III extends this to the adjacent area on Skothar, north of the Steppes of Jen, with the area south of the steppes deciduous.
Isle of Dawn
Wrath of the Immortals shows us that the forests from Newkirk north are all evergreen, and the Almanacs seem to agree. The latitude coincides with the Northern Reaches and Alphatia, so I suppose it should be about right.
The Hollow World
The only Hollow World map with evergreen forests marked on is HWR3 The Milenian Empire. In the far south of Milenia, forests change to predominantly conifers. The altitude of this area, a little north of the city of Laroun, would imply that the lands southwest of Lake Agrisa and all the lands on the south Sea of Yr have coniferous forests. Also the forested area enclosed by mountains southeast of Hapta in the Nithian Empire is likely evergreen, though the climate of south Nithia probably means that the forests around Lake Thufu are deciduous. It's important to remember that with the Hollow World, though, that climate and seasons are far less related to latitude than on the Outer World; it seems often cultures have had their climate "localised" specially in order to suit their original Outer World conditions.
In the north, the Antalian Wastes, the Beastmen Wastes and all the lands north of the Azcan Empire probably have coniferous forests. But this is just a guess based on those cultures and the latitude.
Wrath of the Immortals' 48 mile per hex map incorrectly places an evergreen forest southwest of Akesoli, bordering the Atruaghin plateau. Firstly, there is not much of a forest here according to the other sources we have for this area - including Wrath's own 24 mile per hex map! Secondly, it seems marginally too far south, going by the evergreen-deciduous separation line as it seems to apply to the rest of the Known World.
A Final Note
During my research for this article, I had to take a closer look at some tree related words that it turns out I really didn't know half as well as I thought I did. My father set me straight, as follows:
- Deciduous trees are those which lose their leaves every year in autumn.
- Evergreen trees are those which have green leaves all year round. They do lose their leaves, and they get replaced by new ones, but it's not a yearly thing.
- Coniferous trees, or conifers, are those which grow cones for seed distribution.
In other words, deciduous and evergreen are effectively opposites, while either can be coniferous. Thus, for example, a quick check of my Oxford Dictionary tells me that larches are deciduous coniferous trees. (That example was the source of my initial confusion.)
In fact, most conifers are evergreen, and that's why they are sometimes used as synonyms. However, it's more correct to talk about evergreens and deciduous trees.