Can you have an Industrial/Urban Fantasy World with Nature and other elements?

So one of the most important things in making urban fantasy (or any setting) is to take into account how the elements present would logically affect the setting.

This brings me to my first point: defenders of nature. In most fantasy there is usually always some kind of nature spirits/beings that live in forests and such. The problem comes when it seems to me that these beings are typically so overpowering I am baffled how the setting has FARMING let alone nation-states and social/societal norms we would recognize. How can I deal with this*?

Thanks for anything you offer!

*One thing I can think up relates back to the idea of gods, in how there are equally powerful forces pushing back on the other side, but I am interested in what you have to suggest.

– Carbon1

Hey Carbon1, great to hear from you again! 

Your question about nature spirits has fascinating implications, and you’re right that if trees, rivers, or other natural features had spirits with supernatural powers, human land-use would be extremely restricted. There are generally two ways to go about this if you want a world that resembles our own. 

Nature spirits are rare

  • In this scenario, not every tree is a dryad, and not every brook has a nyad. The vast majority are mundane. 
  • These nature spirits either exist mostly in the spirit world, or their groves and rivers are hidden behind the masquerade. Sure, it might look like humans have completely deforested an area. But if you know just the right path, you can find a hidden grove. 

There is anti-nature magic 

  • This option is very dark, as it means taking ecological destruction and making it part of your supernatural world. 
  • Either humans or some other spirits have magic of their own that they use against nature spirits. In a world like ours, that means the nature spirits are not doing very well. 

Alternatively, you can go the other direction and change how humans live in the world. If all of nature is inhabited by spirits, human settlements might be built around deals with the local dryads. Instead of clearing land for farming, the humans perform services for the spirits, and in exchange are gifted with bountiful harvests. Homes might be built of non-organic material like stone or grown out of the trees in exchange for favors owed. That type of setting would have a lot of novelty. 

Hope that answers your question, and good luck with your story!

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