Monster / Obstacle: Meddling Trees
The Treants in this module are not intended as a direct threat to the PCs, although some circumstances might cause them to take direct action. For the most part they are the looming threat in the background, indirectly attacking and harassing the PCs as they move through the area in their quest to reach the manor.
When selecting targets for their interference, the Treants are influenced by their particular hatreds: they have a strong fear of fire, and a lingering resentment toward elves (thanks to Alisandriel). When selecting targets, the Treants prefer torchbearers, elves, lantern-bearers, and candle-holders, in that order.
The treants have a variety of ways of meddling with the PCs without directly exposing themselves.
When the PCs pause for rest or provisions, creeping roots slowly move to hide small items, spiriting them away. A Scavenger Ob2 can re-discover the “misplaced” items.
Subtle shifts in the position of various plants may lead PCs into contact with various stinging nettles and ivies. Lore Master, Hunter, or Survivalist Ob2 allow the PCs to notice and avoid the dangerous patch, while failure causes Angry / Exhausted / Sick.
Usable resources become more difficult to find when facing active opposition. The Ob of any standard Hunting, Survivalist, or Scavenging test in increased by +2 while opposed by the Treants.
Cooking attempts may be fouled by unpleasant items dropped into stewpots and campfires. Cook tests suffer +1 Ob. Do not inform players of this penalty in advance. MoF 2 or more may cause sickness among those consuming the food.
The creeping sense of doom and constant sense of being watched causes PCs to be at +1 Ob to recover from the Afraid condition.
Campfires become scattered by wind, smothered by an accumulation of wet leaves, or covered in dust and debris. The ground proves surprisingly hard and uncomfortable. Well-covered resting spots are exposed to the elements by morning. All campsites are at -1 on the Camp table.
Items suspended among the branches of trees to keep them from predators are stolen, never to be seen again.
Characters climbing trees for any reason discover “weak spots” or difficult climbs which result in nasty falls. (+3 Ob to relevant check, Health Ob3 or injured)
Once the PCs have attracted the attention of the Treants, they are likely to lose these conditions and annoyances only by retreating to the Outer Woods or while within the Manor.
PCs who are foolish enough to set the forest they are standing in on fire deserve exactly what they get; kind GMs may choose to convey this caution to the players. The Treants will attempt to corral the PCs using the flaming trees, while creating a firebreak from the rest of the woods. Treat this as a Flee conflict (Disp 14), and forewarn players that death is on the line. The Treats and trees are treated a N7 with 1D3 helpers (Weapon: flaming trees +1D Attack and Maneuver, -1D Defend) for purposes of the conflict. Compromises should generally be applied toward injured and exhausted. GM Note: Being incinerated is one of the few ways to truly die in this region. Although PCs will return as restless spirits, they will be out of play unless the GM feels they can make a meaningful contribution to the party in that state.
There are approximately 20 Treants scattered through the woods, 'though they slowly move to intercept those bearing fire. Treants avoid direct conflict, and appear in nearly all respects to be normal trees when immobile, but can be identified by those who know specifically what to look for. A Lore Master Ob5 can identify such traits, as can a Scholar Ob3 test with the appropriate research facilities. Should one be forced into a physical confrontation, they are N7 (Lurking, Judging, Punishing), M5, Disp (Kill 14, Drive Off 11, Convince 7, Riddle 4) and generally do not pursue those who flee. In a K/DO conflict, they use the following weapons: Nearby Branch - Feint +1s, Nobby Branch - Attack +1D, Maneuver -1D, Tough Bark - Defend +2D, Maneuver -1D.
Site: Statuary Garden
The PCs stumble upon an attractive area dotted with statues… statues mysteriously clothed in the remnants of badly weathered clothing, even including some ruined finery. Each bears expressions of horror or surprise; most are sunken deep into the ground as a result of their weight and long tenure here. Some of the statues are missing fingers; a dwarf or those skilled in Dungeoneer or Carpenter will automatically recognize chisel marks. No valuables remain on these statues, ‘though other signs of looting persist, and are easily recognizable by those with Criminal skill (purses cut open, belts or straps severed, etc).
Wise PCs will have run away by now. We continue on the assumption that the PCs prove foolhardy.
Near the center of the “garden”, a statue reaches under the remains of a wagon, wrecked cages scattered from it. On the statue’s finger is a beautiful gold and ruby ring (worth 4D), outstretched on its hand as it reaches into a burrow-like hole.
PCs attempting to interact with the statue without going near the burrow will face an uphill battle. The heavy statue has sunk to the knees in mud over the intervening years. Most checks to attempt to move it without disturbing the burrow should come in around Ob4 to Ob5.
The hole contains a half-dozen baby cockatrice, recently hatched. The mother observes from nearby, where she rests in a shallow depression, shaded by some small trees (she can be spotted on a Scout Ob4 by anyone specifically looking away from the burrow; failure on this roll put the PC in the creature’s path when it attacks). Meddling with the burrow (peering inside, poking, flushing out, etc) draws the creature’s wrath, sending her charging to the attack.
Fortunately, even an angry lizard-chicken does not pose sufficient threat to armed and trained warriors to provoke a conflict. It can be easily fled, slain using ranged weapons, or even in melee.
Unfortunately, rage and surprise present the potential of a PC being pecked before an effective defense can be mustered. PCs near the one who provoked the cockatrice’s rage must roll Health Ob3 to avoid being pecked; the targeted PC must roll Health Ob4. PCs equipped with shields are at +1D for this roll.
Pecked PCs receive a special Sick condition, to reflect the petrification process slowly spreading through their body. Each failed recovery roll is treated similarly to “sucking up” an injury, save that all penalties may be removed when the Sick condition is eventually recovered. PCs actually choosing to “sweat out” the sickness face the normal, permanent penalties, as well as loss of the use of one limb (usually a hand) until the spell is broken (generally via an appropriate quest or adventure). Any PC for whom Health, Will, or Nature is reduced to 0 may be considered fully petrified.
The baby cockatrice panic and scatter when the mother attacks, potentially pecking any PCs who come after them. An immediate Hunter Ob5 test would allow a PC to safely capture one of the creatures without being pecked before it escapes; their peck has the full effect of an adult cockatrice, except that PCs gain +1D to recovery rolls from the special Sick condition.
Safely transporting and selling a baby cockatrice are left as an exercise for the GM. They should be quite fragile and dangerous, but potentially worth a small fortune to the right buyer. Overall it should eventually prove to have value only slightly smaller than the amount of trouble it caused for the PCs.
This area is scattered with strange flowers which produce a soporific musk. Characters may make a Lore Master Ob2, Survivalist Ob3, or Hunter Ob4 test to identify this effect before they are affected; with MoS 1, the GM may also note the potential beneficial effects. PCs who enter this area with the Afraid or Angry condition immediately recover those conditions. However, characters without these conditions must make a Will Ob3 test or become Exhausted.
Characters who make camp in this area suffer a -1 on the camp roll. In the event of a disaster, all exhausted characters enter a deep coma from which they never awaken (without some sort of quest-based curative). All characters awaken from this camp with the Exhausted condition.