In Sorrow We Trust wrote: ↑Wed Mar 31, 2021 5:03 amThe Arelith Forest is due a remaster soon and if you have ideas for how to improve it, you may consider dropping your ideas in a feedback thread!
I have both broad design principles for the forest, as well as some tactical ideas for ease of play.
Big Forest Principles:
1. Three Thematic Areas
The Arelith Forest (to me) is currently carved into 3 semi-distinct areas -  the 'safe history' of the Burial Grounds, Silver Glade, and Druid Grove;  the impact of Light Keep and shadow wood in the "east", and  "ogre land" in the north.
I think these areas do create a sense of what the Arelith Forest should achieve. The Forest is a place for elven/nature roleplay; some parts of it are dangerous, creepy and/or weird; and it carries a very important player/character legacy that is a dominant fixture of the server (Light Keep). I think all changes to the Forest should be made with that in mind.
2. Cherishing the Old; Fostering the New
The areas of the Druid Grove, the Elven Burial Grounds, and the Silver Glades are iconic server areas - and maybe even the "Road to Light Keep." I think all efforts should be made to keep the spirit of these places in tact, but could probably still do with a face lift.
3. The Forest is Both the Most Dangerous/the Most Safe
A "feeling" of the Forest, that ebbs and flows, is how it simultaneously houses one of the most secure and majestic settlements of Arelith's canon (Myon) and now houses one of the most horrific (the Hellgate).
Sometimes the Forest gets muddied in other ideas - like the Shadow Woods (which always belonged in the Forest of Despair more than the Forest, but it was implemented way before Baator, so hindsight 20/20). There are also gnolls and ogres, but both of these creature mobs really don't tie in Baator at all.
Make no mistake - the Hellgate has been in the server for over 70 IG years. Humans have born, lived, and died, with the corrupted Light Keep in existance.
The role of elven/nature roleplay really has struggled to deal with the presence of devils. How can a druid moot peacefully occur 5 zones away from a Pit Fiend, you know?
Some Tactical Elements
With the above principles in mind, here are a bunch of things "I Would Do If I Had a Say."
1. align the "safe areas" to be closer together, to create a stronger corridor for social roleplay. Druids and rangers etc. could now really be next door to elves, and you could get a kind of "nexus" of roleplay in the Forest more easily. This would involve pivoting the Druid Grove onto the western half of the Forest, but you can easily rejig all of that.
2. make the Burial Grounds more prominent in this social corridor. Pre-Forest revamp 1.0, the Lye was a place of conflict because you literally had to walk past it. I would advocate you make the Lye closer to Myon, more in your face, and really (again) force those druids to reconcile with an elven crypt with undead guardians in it.
3. ramp up Baator's corruption in the "eastern wood." Spread out the decay of Light Keep into a broader area. Really give the feeling that as soon as you step 1 zone away from the western "safe forest", you are in the land of corrupted hellish woodlands.
4. remove the Shadow Wood and make it magically teleport to the Forest of Despair. Replace these shadow woods with a stronger Infernal occultism theme. Include some sort of mob that more readily revels in devil worship, than the gnolls (which are abyssal in their practice).
5. make the "northern" forest a gritter "Mirkwood" - where the infestation of giant-kin (maybe that ogre / giant alliance DM plot) is a military threat now to your Social Roleplay Corridor. Give Giant-kin a direct opposition to Myon and the elves, and break out of the elf/drow paradigm.
I would thus expand the cave networks of Minmir into the Northern Forests.
6. More broadly, make a lot of the Arelith Forest outside of the "western safe zone of druids/elves" strongly interconnected. We don't need fancy Secret Forest path mechanics. Focus on player knowledge bleeding into character knowledge. Make little caves. Obtuse transitions. Fallen logs over ravines, etc.
7. ramp up the dominance of devils and What That Actually Means. (have I said this already?)
8. honour Light Keep's presence in a more tragic way. expand LK as a place of ruin, not just devil-infestation. give it that "no kings in Gondor" vibe. put more zones of interaction (conflict absent) where paladin RP can take place.
I would thus smash up the entire Inner Keep, and make the whole area not recognizable to older players. Just blow it up and scatter its remains across the whole "eastern" forest.
9. Tie all mobs back to those three thematic zones - safe west has fuzzy furries; the north is giant-kin and militarized infestation; the east is all about devils.
10. Add more elevation within the forest proper and segment zones at different elevations. The Arelith Forest is super flat - give it the Minmir treatment and make it crazy. This can also bleed into "naturewalkers" knowing where to go, and where to fight, etc. It also allows for more flowing water, waterfalls, ravines, etc., that will give the forest a real "wild" vibe.