Bog's World

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Athel Loren

The source of much of the Galadhrim's formidable military power is a fundamental connection with the natural world, as embodied by Athel Loren. Athel Loren is the concept of their army, as a super organism, drawing strength from the forest itself – the army’s host super organism. This source of power comes with a catch, however: nature is cyclical. Thus, the battlefield prowess of the Wood Elves depends heavily upon the season. As a super organism, the army is directly affected by the state of the forest. There is no discernible effect on any individual, either as an individual or as part of a larger formation. There is however, a discernible effect on formed units. The performance of a Galadhrim army is at it’s “baseline” levels in Spring and Autumn, at it’s peak in Summer and at it’s lowest ebb in the depths of winter. This effect is of course, at it’s most pronounced within forests with a large Galadhrim and/or Fey resident population. If the army is called upon to manoeuvre any significant distance away from such an area, then the effects are mitigated by distance and the army’s performance returns to its “baseline”[1].

Unfortunately for them, those who wish harm upon the forest do not attack when conditions are best. Fortunately though, mounting a winter campaign is a thing best undertaken from a position of both strength and certainly, as well as faultless and bountiful logistical support.

Spring can make the army a little slow to muster, while the trees thaw and bud, their vitality returns slowly. However once the sap has begun to rise, then spring really is here; as the forest bursts into life, so to does the Galadhrim army, thrumming with renewed vigour. The soft earth of the forest floor will have slowed the movement of any intruder.

The Wood Elves are at their strongest and tribal warriors at their most plentiful in summer. Greater communion with the Valataur sends morale sky high. The sun and rain have given your forces plenty of nutrition, be they plant, Elf, or somewhere between. A Galadhrim army is able to support itself almost entirely by foraging in woodland areas. Again, within their own environment, the dense foliage shifts in the wind, making it hard for interlopers to shoot effectively. The Galadhrim have no such problems. Additionally, sat outside the forest on plain or farmland, the heat and humidity of summer can grind down the morale of any investing army. In the High Summer of the Flaness, the dryness of the forest can make it very flammable, which is great for the attackers.

When Autumn comes, the trees prepare for winter, and their power wanes. The fallen leaves give the Wood Elves plenty of natural cover for ambushes. It's also harvest time, and there is potential for both allied and opposing forces to be well fed from pillaging as well as a little hard work.

Wood Elves are sluggish in the cold of winter. Potentially this can reduce all maximum movement distances; most Nostir Generals with any Galadhrim units will factor this into their strategic plans. The lack of foliage makes it easier to shoot, deciduous forests no longer count as soft cover. The snow makes marching tricky out on the plains and farmland, hampering any aggressor’s strategic and tactical movement. Also there is a chance that the attackers might have lost many to the elements.

Their allied Forest Spirits (Gw: ‘Valataur’) are, to an extent, the physical embodiment of Athel Loren. Beginning in the late Spring, climaxing in the Summer and waning towards the Autumn, the super organism which the Galadhrim defend provides a contribution of its own. In addition to the Fey, who sometimes might be only guardians of the forest in the dead of winter, large enough woodlands spawn animated plants specifically to support the army. In addition to the animated trees that tend to be large and fairly static; these Valataurs are also likely to be found with a Galadhrim army. They are created by the forest itself, sometimes spontaneously, sometimes with Galadhrim assistance. They appear more like trents than trees – they are anthropomorphic, standing between two and three meters tall, they are covered in tough bark (AT13) and are fast, well camouflaged and hard hitting. Of course, as a part of Athel Loren, they are limited to working within sight of their parent forest.

Where ever they get their sentience from, it doesn’t manifest a great deal of compassion. Valataurs tend to be merciless, neither giving nor expecting quarter. Their long pointed claw like fingers will seek out gaps and chinks in their opponent’s armour and intrusive shoots will almost instantly fire into their flesh. These break off from the Valataur itself but continuing its work, enveloping the foe in constricting green fibres that are actually feeding on their host. Similarly can split rock like trents and punch like ogres. As far as the Galadhrim are concerned, they consume none of the same resources, never sleep or rest. Sinking their roots deep into the forest loam, they heal much faster than elves. Being creatures of Ghia, they are attuned to the flows and readily identify sandestines and undead amongst their opponents, either to be deal with themselves or to be brought to the attention of the elves.

Old Valataur bodies[2] are often shrines for the worshippers of Riffilane and/or Solanor, at least for as long as they remain. Fay of all sizes and dispositions love these manifestations of their own home as they allow interaction on a distinctly personal level.

The Galadhrim are the physical opposite of the Valataurs. For the most part, the Elves are slight, poorly armoured, and not really built to survive long, drawn-out combats. However, what they lack in strength and durability, they more than make up for in skill, finesse, and guile. Elves have exceptional manoeuvrability and are difficult to get into combat if they don't want to fight. A significant number of the units are excellent at infiltrating behind enemy lines to slow down or harass the advancing army. The elven warriors that are equipped for combat are exceptionally skilled and have multiple and varied attacks to make up for their lack of strength. When you only fight when you want, and can spring into battle from multiple sides at the same time, brute force turns out not to be everything.

[1] Both the size of the military formation and the area covered by the host forest dictate the range and strength of this effect. The larger that each of these is the greater the effect and the further its reach.
[2] ‘Born’ in the spring they are animated and extremely active until the part of the forest from which they originate begins to experience the first touch of autumn. At this time, one of the first things to ‘shut down’ is the Valataur. The wooden anthropomorphic body is laid to rest where ever it is. If one is needed next year then it will be found form within the resources of the forest – they are always made anew as it is the fresh sap and new growth which give them their vigorousness and vitality.

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