Level 247
rating: +15+x

SURVIVAL DIFFICULTY:

Class 3

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At first, most assume they've found a haven; the forest is calm, and there are no apparent dangers. Of course, those who linger too long start to see the cracks in this façade. The forest feels too dense; the ancient oaks and small saplings leer at wanderers just off the path; it is too quiet. There are no birds or beasts making the usual racket; in their place are strange, mossy figures that blend into the foliage.
Sometimes wanderers stay long enough to see the façade shatter as the level becomes rabid and hungry. The plants start to grow at a stunning rate. The level becomes a death trap as deadly undergrowth takes over the paths and buildings that once were the only source of safety. The level consumes itself and everything in it with greenery, and then stops as suddenly as it started, slowly returning to its base state. Ready to start the process again.

Description

forest-path.jpg

A typical pathway in Level 247

Level 247, colloquially known as the Weald, is a vast broadleaf forest strewn with paths, buildings, lakes and rivers. The size of the forest is unknown, as it's very dense, making it tricky to navigate.

The forest itself has been reported to make wanderers feel relaxed and refreshed.1 This, combined with having clean and healthy air, being perpetually light due to not having a day-night cycle, and always having a pleasant temperature, makes it a popular destination for wanderers despite the dangers.

There are a myriad of buildings and locals in the Weald, all interconnected with dirt paths. These paths are usually narrow, only able to fit two or three people walking abreast, but they are the only safe and reliable way of traversing the level. Even if paths can abruptly end and change constantly as they become overgrown, making mapping them next to impossible to map.

The forest floor is coated with deadly undergrowth that makes the levels paths vital, as without them, the level would become uninhabitable. When in contact with the undergrowth, wanderers become increasingly drowsy, their energy being drained, making rest increasingly alluring. Eventually, after minutes of languishing, wanderers are stripped of their vitality, collapsing on the ground. At this point, the wanderer is lost to the forest floor as it engulfs them in vegetation, leaving an unrecognizable mound of grass and moss where a corpse once was. Soon this mound will reanimate, becoming a gardener.

Gardeners

Gardeners are large humanoid entities that tower over most wanderers at seven or eight feet. Their figure is completely covered in moss and plants, making identifying what lies beneath the carpet of verdure a challenge.

The outer layer of plants on a Gardener is incredibly sturdy, deflecting most physical attacks and weapons, but with enough persistence and power, this mossy shell can be broken through. Doing so is generally a bad idea, as gardeners retaliate when attacked and can incapacitate wanderers with ease due to their incredible strength.

Despite this, there have still been several reports of what a gardener looks like under the foot or so of grass and moss; most reports agree that the main frame of the gardener is stretched and skeletal, looking like a human torso, with the extremities being similar. Reports of the head, however, have unfortunately been inconclusive, as the plants surrounding it seem to be unremovable.

Impressively, gardeners have never been seen resting or eating, only trudging through the level and going about their duties, which are mainly gardening, as the name suggests. Through this gardening, they provide an indispensable service to the Weald, keeping its plants in check and its paths clear. This makes them a common sight after overdriven growth, as many structures and paths throughout the level need clearing. They are also the reason that mapping the level is impossible, as instead of clearing old paths, they create entirely new ones, meaning the layout of the level constantly changes.

How they go about their gardening is still somewhat of a mystery; sometimes plants wither and die where a Gardener waves their arm, and sometimes they resort to just ripping plants out of the ground. Despite this, Gardeners are careful with buildings, never intentionally damaging them and sometimes restoring them.2

Overdriven growth

green-river.jpg

A river during overdriven growth.

Overdriven growth is a phenomenon in which flora within the level grows rapidly. It can happen at any time, but is usually spaced out by days and sometimes weeks3. Lasting upwards of 30 minutes, they make leaving the level a top priority, as the accelerated growth may not stop before greenery consumes all safe spaces within the level.

As soon as overdriven growth occurs, all water in the level becomes clogged with algae, wanderers begin to feel drowsy, and most noticeably, plant growth becomes visible to the naked eye. Everything in the level will be grown over, including other plants. Grass will get grown over with moss, which gives way to fungus, which itself dies, letting grass grow again. Trees will tower towards the sun only to come crashing back down, dead from age or pulled by vines. Shrubbery will fight bushes in an apparent battle for vast swathes of the forest floor. And wanderers will be caught in the middle of this, transfixed by the fervent beauty of it all. Unlucky ones won't even realise the path they stood on has been taken over with foliage and their life is being drained from them before they hit the ground.

Wanders caught in the open during this event should immediately seek shelter in one of the levels buildings.

Buildings

ruins.jpg

A pair of buildings, both in surprisingly good condition.

A great many buildings are scattered throughout the Weald but most are in poor condition. Generally, they remain structurally sound, though it is not unusual to find large holes in the wall and missing doors or windows. Oddly enough, there are never any plants within the buildings, as gardeners constantly clear them, so it's a common occurrence to find them indoors. This shouldn't be dangerous to wanderers as long as they stay out of gardeners ways.

Wanderers are advised to stay close to a structurally sound, preferably large, building or at least know where one is in case of overdriven growth, as buildings can resist it, as when plant growth reaches buildings, it slows to a crawl. It still advances, but much more slowly, and the speed picks up again as more and more of the building is consumed.

The size and condition of buildings change how long they can resist overdriven growth, with smaller buildings generally only lasting up to five minutes in good condition and larger ones lasting anywhere from five to thirty minutes. Another factor that reduces a building's resistance is if it has puddles or pools of water, as that gives plants and algae a springboard to grow from. The same is true for plants already growing in the building before overdriven growth occurs. Due to all these factors, it is impossible to accurately determine the resistance of a building, but generally, the bigger it is, the safer it is.

All buildings in the level are roughly from the Victorian time period, ranging from sheds, greenhouses, water features, hunting lodges, and pumphouses. A great many more buildings and structures have been found, but most fall under these categories. There have also been reports of a building completely resistant to overdriven growth—a large mansion with a manicured garden and full furnishings. There is no concrete proof of the building's existence, and the few sightings of it haven't been from trustworthy sources. Many have still attempted to find this supposed mansion, with it becoming a legend drawing people to the level.

Bases, Outposts and Communities

Although many come here for the scenery and relaxing atmosphere, due to the unpredictable nature of the Weald, no group is able to survive for long. There was a cult of wanderers with unparalleled knowledge of the level who were dedicated to "keeping balance," but it's unknown how exactly they did this. This group was highly aggressive, committing kidnappings and various violent acts, which led to fewer wanderers visiting the level. They all went missing without a trace after a few months of terrorising wanderers. It is possible that they were all killed by overdriven growth, but due to their knowledge of the level and how spaced out they were, it is unlikely.

Entrances and Exits

Entrances

Many levels lead to Level 247, but entrances can mainly be found in levels that are forests or more natural-looking. Most commonly, clipping through trees covered in moss can take one to this level.

Exits

  • Finding an out of place modern door in any building leads to Level 11.
  • Finding a damaged heavy steel door in any building usually leads to Level 901 but sometimes can lead to Level 159.
  • Hollows within trees can occasionally lead to Level 14 or Level 797. Unless these hollows are near the path, the risk is rarely worth it.

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