Annûtawar (sometimes called the West Country) is almost entirely forested; the boundaries of the country correspond to the boundaries of the forest, though there are one or two large open areas to be found, and some stretches of the coast also have few trees. The forest stretches from the Dragon’s Teeth in the north, right down to the marsh of Ethagias in the south, although the border between marsh and forest is gradual.
Annûtawar is by and large the homeland of the elves, and as such elves are the dominant race. High elves, grey elves, wild elves, and wood elves all live within Annûtawar, though this doesn’t mean they always mingle; the wild and wood elves mostly stay in the deeper parts of the forest, while the high and grey elves spend a lot more time in the elven cities.
A large band of kobolds straddles the southern border of the country; their presence is mostly tolerated except when they decide to try and push beyond their home villages. Forest gnomes are common both in the depths of the woods and in the cities, and humans are not an unusual sight in Annûtawar, probably a result of the neighbouring nation of Narathion. There are rumours of giants living in the depths of the forest.
Treants are also common (but elder treants are rare), though they tend to stay away from the towns and villages. Centaurs live on the western edge of the forest, frequently venturing out into the open plains near the coast. There are some anthropomorphic races too.1 Brockfolk are anthropomorphic badgers that live in caves and hollowed-out rotting (though not necessarily dead) trees. Saphirans are anthropomorphic owls that make their homes in treetop houses and spend much of their life in the forest’s canopy. Nairmors are anthropomorphic ravens that tend to be nomadic, wandering through the forest hunting for food and looking for adventure, though some also settle down in the cities. Lupenes are anthropomorphic wolves that roam the northern boundaries of the forest as well as the foothills of the Dragon’s Teeth, living in small tribes.
Fey are commonly seen here, more so than in most other parts of the continent. Atomies can be found anywhere, even in the cities; they may stay around for awhile in one place, but they always inevitably get bored and move on. Brownies can be found both in the forests and in the cities, though unlike most fey they seem to prefer the cities. Korreds live in burrows near ancient stone circles in the northern reaches of the forest, where the forest merges into the foothills of the Dragon’s Teeth. Leprechauns range through the forest, periodically visiting the location of their stash of gold, but usually being found far afield. Quicklings and redcaps wander through the woods, never staying in one place for long. Satyrs frolic through the woods, rarely staying in one place for very long. Pixies typically make their homes in hollow trees, but often roam far from their home on explorations. Mothkins2 live in small groups (often family groups) in the depths of the forest. Grigs live in colonies, usually in riverside thickets, and have a tendency to tangle with some of the more sinister denizens of the woods. Twigjacks make their homes amongst the roots of old trees, sometimes clashing with dryads.
These are some of the most common varieties of fey that roam the woods, but there are others. Most trees3 older than a century have a dryad attached, and some younger ones do as well. Nixies, nymphs, and fuaths (a type of gremlin) can be found in small forest lakes, but are occasionally seen in the sea as well. Kelpies and rusalkas dwell in the rivers meandering through the forests. Hoary hunters (and their steeds) or leshay may be occasionally sighted.
Annûtawar is ruled by the Triad, consisting of a king, a queen, and an archdruid. The three members of the Triad are considered equals in all ways. The king and queen generally select a successor from amongst their children. If they both die without naming a successor, it defaults to their eldest child. The chosen successor selects their own consort. If neither king nor queen dies before the age of 350, they generally abdicate to make way for their successors. If one of them dies, the other generally abdicates in favour of the successors. The archdruid selects his successor from among the druidic order. Unlike the king and queen, the archdruid rarely abdicates from the Triad.
Below the Triad are two separate councils. The Druidic Council consists of the six most revered druids in the country, plus the archdruid, for a total of seven. A position on the Druidic Council is generally attained by invitation from the other members. The Governance Council consists of the heads of the seven Elven houses, the king and queen, and four elected commoners. For this purpose, “commoner” refers to anyone who lacks a noble title; they could be merchants, craftsmen, farmers, rangers, or pretty much anything other than aristocrats. The noble positions are of course inherited; the commoner positions are usually re-elected every seven years. Sometimes an election occurs before seven years are up; occasionally, an election is delayed, usually due to war.
The Governance Council does not, as a general rule, decide things by vote. Each person is given a chance to say his piece, and then the king and queen discuss the issues and make a proposal, typically a compromise. Then everyone says their piece again, and the king and queen once more attempt a compromise. Sometimes this continues until a compromise is finally reached. However, the king and queen only need to attempt a compromise once before choosing their own compromise without input from the council. It does need to be a compromise; they can’t just deny the demands of the entire council (to do so would risk angering the noble houses). However, if the council cannot agree, they do get the final say. Sometimes the king and queen will call a vote. The rules of the vote are usually that a majority is required of which at least two are commoners. The latter requirement is due to the commoners being outnumbered on the council; as such, they can thwart a vote by all voting against it. A vote is never called if a council member is absent.
There are many ordinary and supernatural beasts living in the wilds of Annûtawar. Ordinary wildlife that live here includes but is not limited to: black bears, wolverines, badgers, boars, wolves, hawks, ravens, black rat snakes (medium constrictor), black adders (small viper), bats, foxes, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, flying squirrels, wasps. The lakes contain gar and snapping turtles.
There are dire and giant versions of several otherwise ordinary species. Dire bears, wolverines, badgers, boars, and wolves are not uncommon. Giant owls, mantises, stag beetles, wasps, spiders, flies, porcupines, and skunks can be found.
There are also a number of supernatural species in Annûtawar. Ettercaps lurk through the forests, herding spiders of all sizes and clashing with the aranea (who do not like to be herded) and spider eaters (who decimate their herds if given a chance). Pseudodragons are quite common, while pegasi and unicorns are fairly rare but definitely present. Owlbears and krenshars lurk in the forests, sometimes threatening smaller settlements. There are also some brain moles, though they’re uncommon due to their favoured food source (psionic power reserves) being hard to find. (There aren’t many psions in Annûtawar.) There are also rumours of colossal bears, beetles, and spiders lurking in the darkest depths of the forest, though there may not be any truth in these rumours.
Plant-based dangers of the forest include poison ivy, assassin vines, udoroots, and mandrake (also called mandragora). These plants are generally not tolerated near settlements, but in the wilder parts of the forest they are a fairly common hazard.