June 25, 2010

Fantastic Trees

I am in the middle of setting up my new sandbox world. One thing I like to do is add the unusual. Herein I present some unique trees that could be found in a fantasy setting. It should be easy to throw one of these in at any point without disrupting a campaign.

I would recommend keeping these trees rare. This will keep them unique and their rarity can be a catalyst for adventures. I have included some plot hooks to help make use of them; however, it is easy to ignore the plot hooks and simply have the characters stumble across one of these trees in the wild.


Charta Tree
The bark of this tree is exceptionally thin and peels right off the tree into sheets. The consistency is very similar to paper and it is now used as such. Care must be taken when harvesting the paper sheets as taking too much can cause harm to the tree by removing its protective layer. If care is taken, the equivalent of 20 pieces of paper can be harvested per month from each tree. Twice that amount can be harvested but the tree will likely die.

Plot Hook: The Charta Tree is rare and only grows in one location. A library has formed around the grove of trees, where they are carefully tended. Unfortunately the library is in the path of a marauding band of monsters. At first the characters are tasked with stopping the monsters, but after a battle they discover the band is too strong. The players are then tasked with bringing saplings to a new location far away where they will attempt to start a new grove.
Plot Hook: The players are tasked to steal a sapling from the above library. The library uses their monopoly of the trees to gain power over local mages and some of the mages wish to break up that control by creating their own grove.
Plot Hook: The characters discover a special ritual, but one of the components of the ritual requires paper from the Charta Tree. The adventure could entail finding a Charta Tree or if there is a library similar to the above library, they could be tasked with a quest with the paper as a reward.
Plot Hook: A monstrous bird has found the tree to be a delicacy and the grove of Charta Trees must be protected. Eventually the nest of these birds must be located and destroyed.

Tear Willow
At first glance this tree appears as nothing more than an exceptionally large willow. However, when it rains the rain water takes on special properties. This is evidenced by the fact the water begins to sparkle. As the rain water runs off the tree and its leaves, it takes on restorative properties. If the rain water can be collected before it drops onto the ground, it will act as a potion of healing. A single Tear Willow will produce 1 potion of healing per hour of rain storm. The tree may also provide additional forms of healing, but for simplicities sake I have only included the potions as a guideline.

Plot Hook: A band of intelligent beings has discovered the properties of the tree and show up every rain storm. They also wish to keep the properties of the tree a secret and attack anyone passing nearby during the storm.
Plot Hook: A human has gained considerable political advantage by the healing works he is able to produce. He has knowledge and ready access to a Tear Willow. His enemies wish to know where he gets his healing powers from. They have discovered the powers are not inherent to himself, so suspect some outside force. They want the players to find the secret of his powers.
Plot Hook: One of the characters (or a close friend) has fallen deathly ill and the only thing that will save him is a draught of the Tear Willow. The adventure consists of finding a Tear Willow tree and then negotiating with the beings that control it.

Brown Sap Tree
The sap of this tree is a thick, sludgy brown. It smells faintly of alcohol and alcohol can be lightly tasted if the sap is tried. However, once boiled, the sap becomes a potent alcohol. The sap runs for a week when the weather start to get colder. During this time enough sap can be collected and then boiled down to produce 10 bottles of extremely potent alcohol. The alcohol runs for a large sum in most lands, due to its potency and its rarity.

Plot Hook: A local merchant is importing this new form of alcohol. He only brings in 30 bottles at a time and only once a year, but he charges a significant amount for each bottle. A rival merchant want to know where and how he gets the alcohol.
Plot Hook: The characters need the aid of a band of centaurs. The centaurs are willing to help, but a band of evil humanoids have taken over the area around their Brown Sap Tree. The centaurs will aid the characters if they can remove the humanoids from the tree.

Straight Tree
This white poplar tree grows straight and this includes its branches. As a by-product of this, the branches make exceptional arrows. It is possible to break off a branch and immediately use it to make an arrow simply by adding an arrowhead.

Plot Hook: Arrows made from the Straight Tree are being used during raids upon the local population. It is a well known fact that the nearby elves have been using this particular type of arrows for years. Thus blame for the attacks immediately falls upon the elves. The characters have been tasked with finding out what is going on. In truth, a band of evil humanoids has discovered a new grove of Straight Trees and has decided to cause a war between the elves and the humans of this region.
Plot Hook: The Middlegrove Arrow Company has made use of a grove of Straight Trees for three generations. Their claim to fame are their perfect arrows, which they export throughout the world. Now a band of elves has showed up claiming the grove as part of their ancestral lands. The characters are tasked with finding out the truth to the claims. After a short bit of investigating, it is discovered that conclusive proof can be found within the Discordia Ruins. The Ruins were created when a part of the Chaos Realms leaked into the world. Unfortunately, the characters will have to brave the monster infested ruins to find their proof.

Whisper Tree
These appear as large elms with silver tinted streaks running through the bark. When a being stands really close to such a tree, they can hear what sounds like whispering. If a character can make a Perception roll they can make out distinctive sounds; sounds of things not nearby. The Whisper Tree is linked with Whisper Trees throughout the world. Non-ambient sounds are picked up by the tree and carried to the other trees, no matter the distance. With a little bit of practice it is possible to select who you wish to hear a noise you wish to make; in effect being able to send a message through the system of trees.

Plot Hook: A kingdom discovered and harnessed the abilities of the Whisper Trees years ago. They use the trees as a system of communication and early warning devices; building keeps near them as staging areas. Recently the keeps, and specifically the trees, have been targeted with assaults, wherein there is little destruction or lives are lost, but the Whisper Tree is burned down. Is this the first stage of an attack upon the kingdom? The characters are hired to find out who is causing this destruction and why.
Plot Hook: Whisper Trees have begun to scream non-stop. Are the trees themselves screaming or is one picking up the scream and broadcasting to all the others? Whatever is causing the scream is overriding the trees whispers. Can the characters stop the screaming?

Walking Tree
This tree does not actually walk. It is a rare mutation of the Whisper Tree. It is also an elm but has black tinted streaks running through the bark instead of silver. It is possible to touch one of these trees and will yourself to “walk” to a similar tree. This “walk” teleports the individual to the nearest Walking Tree, no matter the distance. Fey are especially capable when it comes to “walking” and they may choose which Walking Tree to appear at and are not limited to just the closest tree.

Plot Hook: Fey creatures have begun attacking the local settlements. They are using a Walking Tree to move from the Feywild. The characters are tasked with discovering where the Fey are coming from and to stop their attacks.
Plot Hook: A Walking Tree has begun working strangely. It is slowly pulling everything in its vicinity into it; grass, other trees, animals, etc. The area it has this pull is spreading outward and will soon become a danger. The characters are tasked with discovering what has caused this change and stop it. Unfortunately the only way is to go through the Walking Tree and see what’s on the other side. The tree is being corrupted by an evil cult whose intent is to disrupt the local area.

Black Acorn Tree
Similar to a mundane acorn tree, the acorns from this tree are black in color. When one of these acorns is thrown forcibly on the ground it makes a loud explosive noise. [This would be a ranged attack that, if it hits, causes a -2 to attack rolls to those adjacent. Move Action to use.] A select few of the black acorns do more than make noise and the explosion can cause damage. [A ranged close burst area 1 that does low damage. Move Action to use.] These acorns are black and silver.

Plot Hook: An alchemist hires the characters to locate a Black Acorn Tree and return with several acorns, particularly the black and silver variety. After a series of adventures finding the tree, the party returns with their prize in hand. Unfortunately, the alchemist is evil and is working on augmenting the acorns so that their destructive capabilities are significantly enhanced. After a series of bombings, that claim many lives, the party is hired to find the person who is holding the town ransom; threatening to cause more of these destructive explosions unless paid large sums of gold. The characters may know where the alchemist’s headquarters is, but the alchemist has fortified his workshop and tower, and the alchemist knows the capabilities of the party and will use that knowledge against them.
Plot Hook: A tribe of evil humanoids has begun terrorizing the local area and is using the acorns to help in their attacks. A local druid informs the characters of the location of a nearby Black Acorn Tree and the party is tasked with destroying the tree. Unfortunately, it is guarded by elite members of the tribe.
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