Essentially, this started off as a translation issue: one of our magic schools was based on a phenomena from Finnish folklore called “metsänpeitto“, which roughly translates to “covered by the woods.” A phenomena usually attributed to supernatural beings, who make you go lost in the woods, sometimes forever. But there’s not a real word for that in English, for obvious reasons. The wizards of Karelia have special woods magic, different the ones the Wizards of the Green have. The Green wizards work with plants, these people work with the woods themselves.
So, we debated it yesterday with Artemis a bit. We settled on “Wolfheart”, to expand the concept of Metsänpeitto a bit. Essentially, it’s the primeval forest that exists both in our world and in the worlds beyond: the place where the Wolf, the Bear, the Elk, the Lynx and the Fox come from. Capitalization is important here, because it’s about what those things represent, not just what they are in our world.
Since everywhere where there is a tree, a trace of the Wolfheart can be found, these wizards can manipulate the Wolfheart and step into it at will. It’s a frightening place and not a very safe one at that. It gives them powers over those five animals, and powers derived from them. So, you have a certain form of travel you can use and a handful of powers that are inspired by those animals.
The Wolfheart also hides a secret from a distant age. It’s where the Old Gods of Karelia went to die, but they’re not quite gone still.
And as a companion thing to the Wizard School, there’s a discipline used for travelling overland that’s very much in vogue in Karelia, since it’s all about avoiding the Wolfheart that might come over you when you lose yourself. It’s a discipline that essentially is about knowing where you are all the time, even when you don’t.