To me, the word Wilderness is all about context. A wilderness is a dangerous place full of slavering beasts and sudden chasms and the risk of death from drowning, and the possibility of dying of thirst.
One of my favourite characters wears court shoes and she’s pretty good at magical aerial combat. To her, the worst days are the ones where she has to leave civilisation. To her, an unpaved road is more of a reason to complain than being ordered to go capture a god. In fact, her people literally use paved roads to channel power, and the way they channel it can be used to capture gods. The SECOND god to invade her homeland might stand a chance. So far, no major deity has volunteered to be the first.
But I’ve also played elves. My favourite elf spent her first night in a major city in a park, up a tree. She learned to use cities, but she is most at home in the wild, where she knows the dangers more directly, and where she IS one of the dangers.
What these two extremes have in common is that in both cases, the wilderness is an opportunity. For both the court magician and the elf, there are dangers in the wild. In one case, the wilderness is a hostile setting, full of rural horror, a lack of rules, and wild animals that are invariably going to be under the control of whichever idiot has been magically messing with the place THIS TIME1To be fair, when the court magician is called on, nature is often behaving weirdly.. In the other case, the wilderness is a friend, an environment that is more likely to be helpful than a hindrance, and the challenges are framed within the wilderness.
It’s both. Don’t limit it to one.
- 1To be fair, when the court magician is called on, nature is often behaving weirdly.