Archives of Nethys

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Infinite Worlds


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 64
Tree branches sway in a breeze that resonates with insect trills, bird calls, and the scuffling of unseen creatures in the undergrowth. Alien ferns and other undergrowth compete for shards of sunlight that pierce the dense canopy, and the ground is soft with decomposing leaves.
Forests can be one of the most important and biodiverse biomes on a planet, serving as massive natural recycling centers and homes for countless denizens, all of which survive in an intricate web of interdependent symbiotic relationships. Forests exist in almost every climate, from frigid taigas to sweltering jungles. Tropical rainforests tend to have the greatest biodiversity of any biome, boasting plants, animals, and even societies of sapient creatures that might be entirely unique to the world—or even the galaxy.
Widely varied even in their most mundane manifestations, alien forests are rich with bizarre possibilities. A jungle might be a labyrinth of crystalline, silicon-based plant life, or it might be filled with wildlife that evolved to project strange illusions that ward off predators. In one forest, some trees might bend toward unseen mystical energies instead of the sun, intersecting with nonmagical plant life at odd angles. In another, trees may grow into shapes that channel wind into haunting melodies that prophesize the future.
Besides the thrill of discovery, forests typically contain an abundance of natural resources, such as food, lumber, fuel, or medicinal plants. Dense tree cover can also provide the perfect place to lay low for anyone on the run or just simply fed up with the demands of an urban lifestyle.
Life in a forest revolves around its trees, whose shape, size, and structure can vary wildly even on Earth-like planets. On a world with low gravity, slender-trunked trees might stretch hundreds of feet into the air, with branches and leaves that spread and sway in the slightest breeze like sea anemones in the ocean. In high gravity, trees could be much shorter and stouter, perhaps even wider than they are tall, as they struggle to move nutrients against powerful gravitational forces. In any forest, all manner of strange creatures adapt to these different forms.
Sapient creatures who make forests their homes are as diverse in their interactions with the biome as forests themselves. Some inhabitants might spend their entire lives flying or swinging from branch to branch among the canopy, never setting foot on the forest floor. Others might tap into the forest canopy, capturing energy gained via photosynthesis and distributing it to advanced technologies among its shade. Those who live in the dense and dark undergrowth may develop senses more powerful than sight and might live in mobile and makeshift structures that can be as difficult to spot as they are easy to move. Those who build more permanent structures often do so in tangent with the surrounding trees, building their homes in sprawling woven-vine villages or among complex root systems. However a species adapts to its forest home, it’s likely to be closely intertwined with the ecosystem. A forest-dwelling sapient species might form symbiotic relationships with fungi or parasitic plants that concentrate needed nutrients from the trees, or they might develop elaborate rituals for living in peace with apex predators that would otherwise eradicate them.

Forest Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 64
Forests are often the source of livelihood for those living in or around them. Those from forest biomes might be hunters, poachers, farmers, biologists, or loggers. Adventurers who grew up near a forest might have climbed trees to find food or simply for fun, increasing their Athletics skill. Balancing on moss-covered branches and navigating intertwined canopies require deft Acrobatics. Survival and Life Science are important, both for not getting lost and for knowing which creatures are dangerous and which foods are safe to eat. Stealth and Perception help those who need to stay alert for potential dangers, but are of special importance to hunters, whose livelihood can rely on noticing prey before being noticed by predators.

Forest Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 65
It’s not uncommon for terrestrial worlds to have land masses predominantly covered in forests—that is, until native societies reach a phase of rapid industrialization. But a forest planet isn’t necessarily a monoculture of the same trees for countless thousands of miles. Boreal forests, temperate forests, and tropical forests are capable of hosting a multitude of different life-forms and thrive in different environments. A forested planet doesn’t have to consist of only land masses. Forests of kelp or other underwater plants serve as havens for all sorts of life. Forests in tropical environs are the most ecologically diverse, with thick canopies and nutrient-poor soil, and typically stay the same temperature year-round. Temperate forests are more likely to experience seasonal cycles, such as leaves changing color and falling off in autumn and winter and regrowing in the spring. Because of this cycle, creatures typically use the plentiful warmer months to stock up and prepare for the colder, sparser months. The flora and fauna of boreal forests have adapted to extremely cold temperatures; the trees are typically evergreens with needle-like leaves, and the animals have thick coats of fur, feathers, or layers of insulating fat.
Areas that experience a dry season can be at risk of forest fires. While devastating in the short term, these fires serve a purpose by leaving behind fertile soil from which new life can grow. Sapient beings might even utilize this by burning swathes of land to make room for crops. Large fauna can also have a significant impact on the environment, their movement clearing trails on the forest floor that last for generations and are used by many other species. Large creatures might also uproot entire trees, making room for new growth.

Forest Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 65
Basic rules information on forest terrain already appears on page 397 of the Core Rulebook. Here you can find hardness, HP, and climbing DCs for your average tree, though these could all certainly change depending on the particulars of your forest. Trees and undergrowth also provide cover, the rules for which can be found on pages 253–254 in the Core Rulebook, though remember that not all forests are thick with undergrowth—old‑growth forests like rainforests don’t allow enough light to the floor for much to grow. Rules for rain (Core Rulebook 398) and fog (Core Rulebook 399) can also come in handy for rainforests in particular. In rainforests and jungles, deadly insects and reptiles can invoke the affliction rules (Core Rulebook 414), especially those for poisons (Core Rulebook 415). In a boreal forest, the rules for snow (Core Rulebook 398) and for cold dangers (Core Rulebook 400) might come in handy, as temperatures in that environment can easily reach extreme cold. If you expect a vehicle chase in a forest, you can use the sample chase environment (Core Rulebook 287) for some obstacles your PCs might encounter. For examples of forest worlds, look at locations on Castrovel’s primal continent Ukulam (Pact Worlds 36), such as the unmappable Caliria Maze jungle, or Triaxus’s Doraeshi Rain Forest (Pact Worlds 104), an ecological wonder capable of adapting to the extreme seasons of Triaxus.

Forest Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 66
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Forest Inhabitants

1–4Cerebric fungusAerial devil
9–12Dragon, greenEohi
13–16Entu symbioteFeeder fungus
29–32Goblin, spaceKaukariki
45–48JububnanRageshkor, green
49–52KaloRenkroda, whiskered
53–56KiirintaSeed walker
69–72Oracle of OrasSynapse worm
85–88Uplifted BearVoid palm
93–96VlakaWrither swarm

Forest Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 After a security breach at a wildlife conservation compound, a number of exceedingly rare and endangered animals have been let loose into the surrounding forest. Conservationists call for their safe return, while a frightened local populace wants the creatures exterminated immediately.
2 A group of uplifted bears has taken up residence in a forest on land owned by a powerful corporation. Their leader has issued a declaration that rejects technology and promotes a return to the simplicity of nature.
3 Centuries of rapid industrialization by the native species has left a planet’s forests on the brink of complete destruction. Recently, something has begun animating the trees to fight back.
4 A conservation group hopes to start a controlled breeding program to increase the population of a critically endangered arboreal species. They need guards to escort them to a specific part of a dangerous forest, the only known location of the creatures.
5 An epidemic threatens the populace, and the best chance of a cure lies in a flower that is only found in an ancient rain forest far from civilization reportedly guarded by an especially protective kami.
6 A fire elemental whose rare sojourns through the forest set the environment ablaze—helping control the forest’s otherwise rampant growth—is missing. Locals call for help to find the missing elemental.
7 Researchers in a petrified forest claim that parts of the forest have suddenly and inexplicably come to life, its rocky forms growing, moving, and even multiplying as though still made of biological material.
8 Every 1,000 years, an entire forest of immense trees uproots itself and migrates hundreds of miles in search of richer soil, trampling everything in its path. The planet’s only sapient creatures arrived from offworld relatively recently—and they built their settlements directly in the forest’s path.
9 An environmental advocacy group is desperate for outside help in proving that a logging company is exceeding its governmental charter and cutting down wide swaths of protected forest, including a sacred magical grove.
10 A tenacious and quickly mutating plant species has recently broken through the thick jungle canopy. Its new direct access to sunlight is enabling it to rapidly evolve into a mobile and predatory plant creatures that threaten to devour all nearby life.
11 No one knows why local fauna have been fleeing a forest in droves. The only bit of evidence discovered so far is the presence of small, shallow, and perfectly circular wounds at the base of the animals’ spines.
12 Strange spores have spread into settlements near the forest’s edge, coating structures in a barely perceptible film. The inhabitants—sapient and nonsapient alike—seem unharmed so far, but many have developed an obsession with digging deep holes in the ground.
13 A species of tree evolved to feed on radiation after a nuclear war decimated the rest of the planet’s indigenous life. A corporation wants to harvest and transplant the trees to put their unique ability to use, but the xenowardens oppose disrupting the planet’s delicate ecosystem.
14 Loggers in a rarely visited part of the forest recently discovered the ancient skeletons of a humanoid alien species completely encased in felled trees, each equipped with ceremonial pieces of pre-Gap technology.
15 After centuries of industrialization and urbanization, the wilds reclaimed a settlement overnight without warning, leaving structures totally overgrown with foliage and no sign of the once-dominant sapient species. Nearby inhabitants are alarmed and request immediate help investigating the phenomenon before it claims another settlement.
16 An invasive alien species has entered a forest and quickly overpopulated the area, pushing out the natural flora or fauna. Now, the ecosystem is close to collapse and the local government is looking at drastic solutions.
17 A forest is slated to be clear-cut in one week to make room for crops and livestock, unless hard evidence is presented of the near-mythical creature that calls it home, which would automatically qualify the forest as a protected area.
18 In the Murmuring Grove, the trees whisper to one another constantly. Some say their conversations speak of long-lost secrets. Recently, scientists translated some of these whispers as geographical coordinates.
19 An apex predator, capable of looking exactly like a tree until the moment it strikes, recently chose a hunting ground that includes a forest settlement. Inhabitants are desperate for help in dealing with the dangerous creature.
20 A region once thought to be a diverse forest ecosystem was recently discovered to be the offshoot of a single, massive, underground organism that spans hundreds of square miles. And something is agitating the creature toward violence.