gridania was grating on me both times due to the generic LotR theme music and everything seeming so inconsequential and meaningless
So it is time for me to at last bust out a taste of the real FF14 inside-baseball obsessive nonsense . . .
Gridania / The Black Shroud is one of the greater casualties of the 1.0 > ARR reboot, because while it always looked like the discount Shire, originally that was a bait-and-switch concealing that as a city-state Gridania is a weird dystopic theocracy ruled by fiat by the handful of immortal, oppressive druids who are able to commune with the old wood: the trees of the Shroud are ‘literally alive’, and only barely suffer the Spoken races of Eorzea to inhabit the forest; if you so much as accidentally break off a branch, plant a flower where it displeases the incorporeal Elemental spirits, or fail to plant a flower where they want one, you will disappear the moment you are alone under that dark canopy, dragged into the underbrush in a process known in fearful whispers as “Greenwrath”. This is to say nothing of the deep, historic racial tensions between Wildwood and Duskwight Elezen, nor between Ixali and the city-folk— nor the more recent, involving Miqo’te Keepers whose poaching of forest animals risks incurring such Greenwrath as to tear down the whole city in a second Gelmorra.
Unfortunately, that’s all been gradually swept under the rug since 2.0, along with many other strange, dark corners of the lore, because Yoshida’s stance has been to throw out the baby with the bathwater in terms of what turned people off about 1.0. Actual Shadowbringers spoilers: not content to wrap up a thousand-year religious war in the span of a few days, by 5.5 they’re even trying to scrub out the piracy from Limsa Lominsa. :(