Neithernor Reborn: The Castle of Vines Reshaped

Hey guys! Nim here!

As you’re likely aware, with the Day of Change around the corner, we’re going to be launching an RP area on the forum called Neithernor: Reborn. It’s been a running theme on the forums for us to speculate how each of the guilds ran before, fantasising what the Castle of Vines would be like if we ever managed to visit. Well, it lived up to the Bali nature when we did get a chance to explore, but all too quickly it was taken away from us.

Now, we’re giving everyone (old and new) the chance to experience Neithernor even though the doors are closed to us. We have a lot of people are that enjoy RP, so what better way for us to continue our exploration? Who knows, “imagination is memory transposed”, perhaps one day it’ll be more than just RP.

First things first; we know that the guild houses themselves change. This means that we can, as a guild, decide how we’d like the Castle to be for the next year. I know some of us have been making suggestions already (you eager beavers :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: ), so feel free to repost/expand on them here! It can be a general vibe, a specific architecture style, a colour palette, or maybe a couple of pics you feel are the Castle of Vines. Of course, it doesn’t even need to be a castle anymore, so don’t feel limited to that!

Next; what rooms do you guys want? The Castle previously had a common area, a kinda basement cave sublevel, but it’s up to you if you want to keep these and/or add new ones. Here we’re talking common areas as we’ll all also be able to have personal rooms if you want one.

Last but by no means least, where are we? Are we in some deep, old forest? A well tended, formal garden? Some elven/tree city sprawled in the branches of a giant tree?

We’ll probably hold a poll to decide the final stuffs, and there’ll be some RP guides coming closer to the day. I think I speak for all leaders in saying we can’t wait to let you guys explore Neithernor again!
-Nim and Helios :balimora:

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I’ve been considering the Balimora guild house as a bastion of balance, as well as nature and chaos. Adding back in whatever is missing from the order imposed by the rest of the world, which in an age of modernization and industry would be nature and sustainability. As such, I’d like to propose a ‘Solarpunk’ type Castle of Vines, located in the heart of a large, well tended forest.

SolarpunkCityThe Castle as viewed on approach.

Inside each of the tree shaped towers would be a vertically-laid out mini-city, complete with housing, work spaces, and common rooms. I’m thinking one Tree for each bearing, and a shared Tree for all Balimorans, and maybe a guest Tree for poly-guilds and non-Bali visitors who may stop by. Trees would be connected both by the skywalk you can see in the above, but also by a series of canals, with gondolas and boats as vehicles between them.


The interior of a Tree, and a look at the canal connecting them.

Aesthetics can be pretty varied, but the focus is on greenery, light, and organic shapes.


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I really like that last image - it reminds me so much of House on the Rock.

I’d come across a couple images on Pinterest that curled into my Balimoran heart that might be lovely places in the Castle of Vines, whatever incarnation is picked. I’ve envisioned it being in the woods, built into the trees as naturally as possible, near a lovely stream.

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That makes me think of advanced tree houses, like this kind of thing:


Although I have to say I wouldn’t want the Castle to be so unfinished seeming, like, that’s a personal preference, but if we’re going tree house, I like these tiny perfect bonsai tree houses (except ours would be much larger):

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I love all the images so far! All I want is a high up place to hang my hat and listen to the wind in the boughs.

I’ll also throw out a cheap plug that I’d like to keep the Lantern Bugs if we could please. But I can always just keep a small handful of them in my room if no one else cares for them. I’m easy.

Also while underground isn’t totally my thing I think we could incorporate some sort of cavern or other natural area down below. Fungal forests, winding streams, that sort of thing.

One cavern I’ve gotten inspiration from in the past are the Waitomo Glowworm caverns in New Zealand.

image

Besides the glowing flying insects in the picture, I love the little walkways along the water. Would be a great way to get around and maybe have studies and reading rooms down there.

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I came across the obsolete term psithurism just yesterday - it is apparently the word that was once used as “the sound of wind whispering through the trees.” :green_heart:

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OH WOW!! I love all of this so far! I’m digging the ‘Solarpunk’ tree cities!

Oh, we definitely need a shared tree! A really majestic one, with massive root structures that create a sort of cathedral space beneath, where we could hold all-Guild events and festivals.

I will completely second @Robert on the caves! A few of us were talking about an underground river in one of the threads somewhere, and that would be a perfect place for it. Waitomo is fantastic inspiration. In fact, getting to the Castle of Vines/Grove City might look a bit like the “Lost World” above Waitomo:



It may be the most purely green place I’ve ever been. It even smells green. Oh, and what is a Lantern Bug? I tried clicking, but it says I don’t have access and they sound nice!

@Fox I think we need to do something with the word ‘psithurism’. I imagine this would be a place, perhaps at the top of our “cathedral tree”, or whatever tree(s) in our Grove city is tallest. I’m picturing an area of the canopy that is some what circular in overall shape, with sturdy branches for lounging on or napping in, where all you can hear is the wind in the leaves and perhaps the forest critters. A psithurary? Psithurarium?

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Psithurariam sounds lovely. Bonus points for hammocks.

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Oh sorry. It didn’t occur to me the old Neithernor files were locked down. I’ll post it again here if no one minds.

Ecology of the Lantern Bug

Consider this a place holder until a proper Thornmouth cataloging can be done. (This document is also posted on the Balimora message board in the main hall.)

“Lantern Bugs” (Credit @Leigha with the name) have recently been discovered inhabiting parts of the great tree(s?) composing the Balimora guild house.

Their name comes from a unique magiqal defense mechanism they have developed in symbosis with the Tree. Like insects in our world that are brightly colored to indicate they are poisonous, these have developed a basic Deception ability that appears to envelope them in a flame as they eat. Likely this is to protect them when they are at their most vulnerability while eating. (Or while mating, but I was having such a nice day before I started thinking of insects mating, and now it’s just gotten weird.)

These insects travel in large clouds and seem to feed off the sap within the great tree. The ancients seem to have devised a way to encourage the tree to pool small amounts of sap into ‘lanterns’ usually bowl or spherical shaped containers in central locations for lighting purposes. The lantern bugs then shine brightly as they consume the sap.

The tree’s sap is sticky and sweet smelling, leading to an unmistakable smell after a while. Usually some organic mechamism seems to control it’s appearance. Somehow the Ancients rigged basic controls to get the tree to release small amounts of sap. How this works is unknown but so far we haven’t proven it harms the tree in any way.

The theory has been kicked around briefly this is a symbiotic benefit to the tree as well. Should it be damaged or injured, the insects would flock to the wound and give the tree the appearance of becoming enveloped in flames, perhaps scaring off any creature trying to make a home in the tree, or ambitious lumberjack.

Looking at the animals themselves, their unique bioluminescence seems to cause them no harm. It produces no heat. Most often the color seems to be a yellow-orange with the occasional odd mutation seeming to produce a reddish or even bluish light.

Below is an artist’s rendering of one Lantern Bug (Credit to @Cj_Heighton)

lantern bug

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Aww! I like them!

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I will absolutely write up a formal cataloguing of lantern bugs as an aspiring entomologist.

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Question: what type of wings do the possess? Are they leathery like a grasshopper or shielded like a beetle? Or clear and membranous?

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The Below

So, im being a bit selfish here, but the below was kind of a staging ground for a lot of my own adventures in neithernor, so id like it to remain for the most part?


The balimoran below was a stairwell set into a doorway on the middle levels of the castle of vines.

On opening the door and heading down, one often found themselves in a constantly shifting, changing series of caves, underground rivers, and ruins. Every time was unique, everything would change depending on the time of day, person who entered, and how many people entered. That being said, finding a momento from the below that came from specific unique areas and entering while trying to channel the latent magic of such an item would transport you to the area with relative success, a fourty percent chance, by my estimation.

The below was at times dangerous, and at times peaceful, never fully resting. We have found ritual chambers, dorms, a farm, and entire ruined towns down there.

In terms of how one would pack to enter the below, usually an expeditionary group was formed of likeminded individuals. Typically people went in groups of 2-5 people, bringing rope, first aid kits, lights, food, water, anything to provide enough survival for a group for the alloted days they planned to remain underground. Sometimes, one might find supplies in the caves to replenish their rations, but it was often also the case that it was bare stone, some plants, and water.

The one constant thing in the below was the presence of a staging ground of sorts, a small stone lined cellar with a well in the middle. There was a ladder leaning on the wall that would lead you down into the depths. This was usually where people would gather to prepare to embark.

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I love @BairnSidhe’s idea of the tree towers and gondola canals. In the old castle we had mentioned that the River Chaos ran through the roots into to underground cavern. We could incorporate @Cj_Heighton’s suggestion into the cavern we are putting in place now. I’m taking a little “artists” liberty on the idea here to explain/ expand/ combine both Cj’s and Bairne’s ideas. With the river running into the “City” and eventually running out of it via the caverns below, we could have both an over ground structure in an orderly manner and a below ground structure that is rememisce of our chaotic side and instead of stalagmites and stalactites we would have roots, with some of those roots actually growing their own leaves upside down. The light would potentially come from the topmost opening of the cavern and be reflected and refracted by large quarts crystals growing from the cavern wall. The cavern could contain all sorts of pools from the river and breeding grounds for @Robert’s favorite living light source.

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Wow, these ideas all sound amazing. Can’t wait to get exploring them! Much as I hate travelling by boat (I get seasick, lol), I love the feel having canals gives the area. Any other thoughts you guys have for outside spaces? A garden maybe for our green fingered Balis? A central area where everything links to maybe?

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I love the idea of a courtyard that’s essentially a forest clearing. From within and without, you emerge from between the trees into a grassy or mossy area that’s open to whatever the sky above might happen to look like in such a location. A safe and protected area, shaded by canopies around the edges, like a porch all the way around, but still open to the elements. It could host a garden or rockeries, or just be for communal moments.

This picture gives a nice sense; I just imagine that the pillars and walls are stones and boughs all the way up.
:evergreen_tree: :balimora: :evergreen_tree:

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Perhaps as well, some sort of greenhouse? Maybe just a wing of the castle akin to something like the Crystal Palace in lofty design, but bursting with tropical wilderness like the giant domes they have at the Eden Project.

Images for reference:
image

Edit: Do forgive my excited fervour of images, I do hope I’m not overly spamming the conversation.

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I love the greenhouse idea! And all around it could be open garden spaces that seem to be totally uncontrolled and wild, but actually make perfect sense because everything is growing where it ought to be.

I’m also imagining habitat spaces around the grounds where various creatures could come and visit, or seek rest and healing. But since our castle doesn’t quite have traditional walls, the habitats connect into the main spaces so that wherever you are there could also be creatures going about their lives.

They would be all different biomes that sort of blend together with no need for enclosures or fencing, just some protective magiq in the plants bordering each area, rather like how old English fences were made out of growing hawthorn bushes together. Perhaps a domed area where it’s always twilight/night for all the nocturnal friends.

And it just hit me, what if our overall castle/tree city was laid out like our elemental symbol? Our communal tree could be in the middle of the ‘flower’, each stave at the top could be a sort of gateway or entrance connecting to the main tree for each of the bearings, and then the petals around could each be a biome region? It wouldn’t be obvious from within the castle, but it would become clear from above (or possibly from below, where perhaps tree roots and tunnels would map it out).

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I love that idea! The hidden pattern, because at human scale it seems sort of crazy and random, but there’s actually a sense of balance and geometry. It’s like the Bubbles thought experiment on the nature of Chaos. At the level of walking about, we’re Bubbles, at the the level of designing the layout, though… we’re able to grasp a small part of the perspective of The Great Chaos.

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Another way to do this would be to use each of the trees canopies to form the 6 petal circles, and where they overlap in the centre could be the main courtyard/greenhouse area.

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