Hi Steemians, we're back! probably. I'll be sharing some adventures for Dungeons and Dragons over the following days.
Very few know the true origin of the Great Father Tree. Popular stories and gossip describe it in such a way that it appears that the tree has always been in our world. A permanent fixture that has accompanied the humanoid races since the beginnings of time. But that is not true at all. The written memory of humans and other races covers only a sliver of time in the Material Plane. Yes, the Father Tree is old, but it too came from a faraway realm. The true story is known because the Father Tree itself told it to an elvish explorer and student of history. The tree was younger and healthier back then.
The Father Tree has a long name that can never be pronounced by bodily organs such as tongues and throats. It is in the ancient form of the Sylvan language. Its long words and sentences can only be expressed by the sounds of the wind, the movement of the trees, and the unconscious interactions of mindless critters. And the name of the Father Tree takes a full month to "pronounce" in its entirety. Thus, the mortal creatures from the Material Plane named it the Great Father Tree. The tree did not mind such title as it understood that the locals were limited in their understanding of nature and their physical bodies.
The Father Tree is a primordial entity from the Feywild. It embodies the force of life and the verdant strength of the forests and plants. Back when the world was young and the two planes of existence were closer to each other, the primordial spirit of the tree walked across the veil and entered the Material Plane. Back then it was a trivial thing to do. The different properties of the plane forced the spirit to anchor itself into a physical representation of itself. That is when the spirit became a grandiose tree in the middle of a valley. It fueled the land and the wildlife around it with only its presence. After only a few decades, a great forest surrounded the Father Tree and its purpose to take care of such repository of life became the only reason for its existence. The strong spiritual presence in the area also became the focal point for other foreign Fey creatures to converge. Centaurs, satyrs, and all kinds of fairies and pixies became part of the permanent population within the forest.
However, the usual state of affairs in the forest is about to change drastically. The Father Tree is sick. A ravenous, morbid aberration eats the tree from the inside. It all started almost a hundred years ago. For a few decades, the tree knew its fate but it was strong enough to fight it. But the tree is running out of strength and the will to fight little by little. Over the past thirty years, the Father Tree has grown weaker and old. Now its foliage looks pale and sick. The trunk's bark looks dry and cracked. It seldom speaks anymore, even in the Sylvan tongue which used to fill its corner of the forest most days.
The other sentient Fey creatures are well aware of the tree's bad health but are unable to help. They found out when a team of satyrs and one centaur entered the tree to cleanse it from whatever threat they could find. The strange disease manifests itself in the shape of dark plant-life abominations that twist and whip anyone who dares enter their domain. The Fey invaders did not flinch and continued until they found the Heart of the Forest, the source of the verdant energy that keeps the great forest growing. The heart was poisoned and consumed by the same disease. Not only was it infested, it appeared as if the very nature of the heart had been perverted by some evil magic. It was the heart that produced the dark plant creatures and a cloud of poisonous gas that killed any Fey creature who breathed it.
Only two satyrs came back alive. The others succumbed to the nature of the poisonous cloud. They explained to their communities that the tree had lost its heart, and with it, the Heart of the Forest. It would not die immediately, but the process had begun and there was nothing any of them could do about it. The tree was doomed to die a slow death that might last up to a decade until it finally kills it.
The centaurs are now looking for help from humans but they have had mixed results. Due to their reclusive nature towards mortals in the Material Plane, most of their claims have fallen to deaf ears. The few that tried to help backed away when they saw the Father Tree and the extent of the damage. The elves in the forest and even far away settlements are sympathetic but are also unable to help. Though their Fey blood has thinned after many generations in the Material Plane, the elves are still vulnerable to the poison cloud that surrounds the Heart of the Forest.
Meeting the Father Tree
The adventurers are first approached by a centaur emissary that explains their bleak situation. Should the adventurers decide to help, a group of six centaurs come to escort them to the deepest parts of the forest. No forest creature dares attack them with such escort. The centaurs explain what they believe happened and that the Father Tree is dying slowly.
If an adventurer requests a reward or something in return. The centaurs explain that they cannot promise anything on behalf of the Father Tree. But they also explain that if the Father Tree recovers to its former glory, the primordial spirit that inhabits the tree and the forest can reward them a spiritual boon or blessing. A different centaur mentions, in passing, that some parts of the Father Tree's bark are harder than most metals and some legendary blades have been fashioned from them. Perhaps the tree can reward such a weapon.
When reaching the clearing with the Father Tree, the centaurs explain that they must first communicate with it in the ancient Sylvan tongue. They then kneel and appear to meditate. A successful DC 16 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the centaurs are communicating with the tree with their breathing patterns. Their supernatural nature also allows them to manipulate the wind currents and the slow dance of close trees. This is the only way to truly "speak" the Sylvan tongue.
After two hours of slow exchange, the Great Father Tree reacts and opens its barky eyes. Through great effort, it manages to gather the strength necessary to address the adventurers in the Common tongue.
"Valiant warriors... it humbles me and my forest to address you in such a state of disarray. I thank you for your presence and regret that our hospitality is bleak. A terrible disease kills me and brings me closer to my death with each passing day. It is inside me. It runs through me. I fear it will poison the forest once I am gone. I cannot speak much longer. Please! If you will try to help me, come closer and I will let you in."
With a shudder and a thunderous sound, the bark of the Father Tree cracks and opens its mouth, revealing an opening inside. A dark tunnel into the tree.
1. State of Corruption
The insides of the Father Tree reveal a terrible situation. Chambers and tunnels in the inside of the trunk appear to be the consequence of acidic erosion inside the tree. The floor is uneven with shallow holes where acid dug deeper. The darkness is broken by small sources of light on the floor and walls. The blight creatures create polyp nests that radiate blue-hued light. A successful DC 14 Intelligence (Arcana) check reveals that these polyp growths are the eggs of some kind of malignant plant life-form. The polyp nests appear to exude acid that burns and rots the tree surface and then feeds on it. The nests are fragile and have 2 HP each.
2. New Tunnels
Narrow tunnels branch from the main tunnel. These tunnels are narrow enough that only small creature can move through them. There are more polyp nests at the end of each narrow tunnel. The tree bark in this section of the tree was damaged recently. A testament to the growing disease that kills the Father Tree.
3. A Grim Welcome
The tunnel opens to a large chamber with three polyp nests. The walls of this chamber are covered with dark pale vines that go from floor to ceiling. A passive Perception score of 18 or higher or a successful DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals that the vines are not immobile. The move and twitch from time to time but it is so faint that it is hard to notice. When the adventurers reach the middle section of the room, the vines on the walls move. They materialize into faintly humanoid shapes and attack. They are 2 vine blights, 2 twig blights, and 4 needle blights.
4. Climbing Upwards
This chamber has one polyp nest and a set of crudely made steps that spiral upwards. A successful DC 14 Intelligence (Arcana) check reveals some strange marks on some of the steps. The person discovers that the Father Tree used druidic magic when it allowed them in to sculpt the steps in some tunnels to allow them to continue.
5. Vine Ambush
The chamber features two polyp nests. A group of blight creatures in the middle of the room awaits the visitors. They attack as soon as the adventurers enter the room. If the adventurers do not enter the room but move towards Area 6, the blights exit the room and attack them in the tunnel. There are 4 vine blights. If the adventurers try to flee back the stairs or to Area 6, the blights use their entangling plants ability to restrain them.
6. Polyp Nests
This section of the tunnel features several alcove-shaped openings that burst with polyp nests from floor to ceiling. This appears to be the largest concentration of polyps so far. A small group of 4 needle blights emerge from the shadows and do what they can to protect the nests. A circling staircase after the nests leads the adventurers to a higher level.
7. Gas Trap!
The room is similar to other chambers in the tree. There are three polyp nests on the floor. A successful DC 17 Intelligence (Investigation) check when inspecting the nests reveals that the eggs in this chamber are different. They are a little larger and seem to be empty. Only a faint pink mist appears to be inside them.
If any of the nests are destroyed, all of them crack open and release a smoke of pink smoke into the room. This is similar to the gas in the basement but primarily designed to kill. Any creature inside the room when the nests crack open must make a successful DC 16 Constitution saving throw, taking 12 (4d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Any elf or creature with fey ancestry takes an additional 2d6 poison damage on a failed save.
8. Larvae Room
Alien structures by the walls and in the center of the room dominate the chamber. They appear to be made of some kind of wax or hardened slime. The structures almost reach the ceiling. They have hundreds of shallow recesses. Some of the holes are empty but others feature strange larva-like creatures inside them. A successful DC 14 Intelligence (Arcana) check reveals that this is a kind of nursery where larvae are kept before they reach maturity. A group of grim-looking blight creatures stands in between the nursery structure in a last-ditch effort to deter any advance. There are 2 vine blights, 2 twig blights, and 6 needle blights.
A short tunnel leads to the very center of the Father Tree's trunk. The center section is hollowed out into a shaft that descends into the darkness. Flying magic or clever use of climbing gear is needed to go down three levels into the basement of the structure. During the descent, it is clear that the tunnels slant northwards almost thirty feet from the center when it reaches the bottom.
9. The Heart of the Forest
This chamber is directly below the tree. The Heart of the Forest is in the center. It appears to be a large flower but it is a mix of different flower kinds. The flower sits on a bush that grows on thick vine-like structures that move outwards and bury into the walls. Other smaller flowers grow from these vines/roots too. The walls and ceiling of this chamber are not or natural rock. They look pale, barky, and root-like. The roots of the father tree surround this chamber and form a kind of cocoon that shields the Heart of the Forest.
The poisonous cloud that surrounds the Heart of the Forest reaches most of the chamber but hugging the walls may still prevent any intruders from breathing it. Any non-Fey creature within 20 feet of the Heart of the Forest must make a successful DC 17 Constitution saving throw to avoid falling asleep for 1d4 hours. Creatures with the fey ancestry property do not fall asleep but take 2d6 poison damage each round they are within the cloud. Creatures of full fey blood die instantly if they breathe the poison.
If an adventurer approaches within 5 feet of the heart, they can see that polyp growths on the heart produce the poison and feed from the heart itself. Removing these growths is not a simple task to do, however. They appear to bury within the heart and removing them is risky if they want to preserve the heart/flower intact. A successful DC 16 Wisdom (Nature) check reveals that this procedure cannot succeed. Removing the polyps damages the heart to some degree and there is no way to know if it will survive. If the adventurers attempt to remove the polyp growths they kill the Heart of the Forest. The heart is in such a state that no physical attempt can achieve this goal.
The Deep Dream
The centaurs and other Fey creatures in the forest do not understand what is happening. Not even the Father Tree knows; for its conscience and the Heart of the Forest's are not the same. Each have their own knowledge and sense of self. The Fey think that a malignant disease is killing the tree because that is what they see. But the blight that affects the tree is a force from the Feywild too, and it is a symbol for change. When a plant dies and rots nothing is lost. Its components return to the earth and become the building blocks for the next generations. In a way, this is what happens.
If one or more non-Fey adventurers fall asleep from breathing the poisonous cloud in Area 9, they enter a deep sleep state from which they cannot be awakened by normal means for 1d4 hours. Only a remove curse spell or similar healing magic wakes a sleeping character. Staying in the room and breathing more gas does not affect any sleeping character further. Upon waking up, the character(s) is immune to the poisonous cloud for 24 hours.
During this period of deep sleep, the affected adventurers enter a state of communion with the life forces around them. This is similar to the way all Fey creatures are connected to the natural world. The adventurers can communicate with the Heart of the Forest during this moment of transcendence. In this oneiric plane, the Heart of the Forest appears before the adventurers in the shape of a humanoid elven-like form, the body appears gaseous and ephemeral and it has a slightly feminine shape. Its voice is neither masculine nor feminine. Nor does it speak any audible language: the heart speaks the ancient Sylvan tongue only, but any adventurers in this place can understand it and reply likewise. Behind the figure that represents the heart, a dark figure looms over. It is a representation of death; the impending doom that awaits the Heart of the Forest.
"Mortals, it is not for you to be in this place. I see that your common blood makes you immune to my poison. But there is no place for your actions and intentions here. What you see is nothing but the natural course of things. This dark figure is nothing but the other side of my coin. Where there is life there must be death too."
If the adventurers try to get rid of the shadow figure, the heart says:
"Mortals! do not meddle in the Feywild affairs. Know that you are too lowly and common to understand the intricacies of life. I must die by the shadow and then give my life force to the forest."
If the adventurers insist on attacking, the dark figure comes forward and divides into two shadows. Use the statblock of the wraith for these ethereal apparitions.
1. The Blight Prevails
If the adventurers decide to do nothing with the corruption in the Heart of the Forest, the Father Tree gets worse and loses all communication abilities in a month. After that, it withers and dies after seven years. The blight creatures inside of it, gorged with the Fey essence of the great tree come out looking for more but die in the clearing after finding nothing. Their bodies decay and the magical essence of the Father Tree fuses with the immediate area and creates a zone of magical properties. Within a radius of 1 mile, the forest becomes an extension of the Feywild and a sacred zone for creatures with Fey Ancestry. Additionally, several creatures become sentient in the area and a community of treants emerges to protect the sacred forest.
While the centaurs in the forest resent the adventurers for doing nothing. Both them and the characters have a dream of the better distant future a few weeks after the incident.
2. The Blight is Removed
As explained above, physically removing the polyp growths from the Heart of the Forest is impossible. They grow so deep that doing this kills the heart. After the failed procedure, the heart dies immediately. After this, the blight creatures all die in a matter of days, and the Father Tree withers and dies two weeks after. The death of the father tree also causes the death of all plant life-forms within 1000 feet of it. Their withered bodies decay and eventually become the building blocks for a new section of the forest. The withered Father Tree becomes a shunned part of the forest, a symbol of death to all Fey creatures.
The centaurs become hostile to the adventurers unless they can explain that they had nothing but good intentions. With a shade of tragic foreboding, both the centaurs and the characters have a dream of the bleak and sad future of the forest a few weeks after the incident.
3. The Darkness Dies
If the adventurers fight the corruption within the deep dream and succeed. They find the Heart of the Forest withered and dead when they wake up. A successful DC 18 Wisdom (Nature) check reveals that while both the heart and the tree are dead now, it is because their magical essence abandoned their physical bodies to inhabit the forest beyond. What the heart explained in the dream is true, both life and death are the same. Destroying death also meant destroying life. But the tree's life force did not die, it only changed forms. It abandoned the tree to live in the forest.
After this, the forest within a 1-mile radius grows with an unstoppable force during a month. It becomes so dense and deep that only Fey creatures dare traverse it now. The Father Tree, while dead, becomes the soil for new plants and trees. The centaurs become confused at first but after communing with the forest in the ancient Sylvan language, they discover that the Great Father Tree is still with them. It changed forms. The Father Tree is now in the soil, in the flowers, in the trees, and in them.
These are the general features of the Great Father Tree. It is located in the deepest part of a large forest. Its roots grow up to ten miles away from the trunk and connect all plant life-forms in the forest.
Terrain. The Father Tree is located in a semi cleared area in the middle of the forest. The immediate area around it features only small plants, bushes, flowers, and moss. The clearing is surrounded by deep forests that soon become dark places as almost no sunlight reaches the surface.
Light. All areas within the Father Tree are in complete darkness. The polyp nests throughout the internal areas produce a 5-foot radius of dim blue light. Destroying the nests also extinguishes this light. The Heart of the Forest in the basement also produces a similar effect but the light is white.
Smells and Sounds. The natural smell of the pine forest and greenery combines with a smell of rotten weeds and a faint smell of dead animals. This repulsive smell comes from the polyp nests that cause parts of the tree to rot and then feed on the rotting biomass.
Sleeping Gas. The underground chamber with the Heart of the Forest features a dense layer of pink-hued gas. All creatures are affected upon descending on the chamber unless they do not need to breathe. The heart produces this gas as a self-defense mechanism. The effect of this gas is described in Area 9.
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