#AtoZ: H is Heath

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

Today, we consider Heath an idyllic, quaint Shrubland, overgrown by Heath (that is, the rather beautifully blooming plant species Erica and Calluna). That mostly owes to a checkered history though: Heath was a poor place, where the poorest parts of society eked out an existence. It had little to offer, as soils were poor and unsuited for many crops. It was depletion, which only left shepherding and beekeeping as economic activities, that created our quaint heaths. Otherwise, it would have turned into pine forests.

Thus, heath was considered one of the archetypical places of wilderness, where one needed to beware of evil and the inhabitants were less civilized humans lived (hence the word heathens used for unbelievers in English).

The Calluna species of plants is very hardy and long lasting, thus making for good building materials.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • The Broom Gnomes: After a long war against their dwarven neighbours, the gnomes lost and their woods were cut down for mining and tooling. Now, they live a destitute life in their former woods, hiding behind their illusions to keep from enemies. They are mostly known for their broom exports, but also create shields and other material from the local heath to pay their tribute to their dwarven overlords, against whom they still hold a grudge.
  • Elves could be interested in heath, which is a durable wood, but know fully well that only depletion causes their large-scale growth. This causes quite a black market for heath smuggled in from human lands.
  • A sheep demon could be interested in keeping the heath, counteracting druidic attempts at renaturalization.

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