There is evidence of tens or hundreds of soldiers passing by, no doubt part of an invading or defending force. A tracker will notice that they have been in quite a hurry and several are limping and/or bleeding. Whatever they encountered it was more than they could handle. At the GMs discretion this might lead to a second roll a short time thereafter, to determine whether the party encounters the enemies of this fleeing group.
2. The buried shrine
A small pavillion shrine has sunk into the soft soil and is now partially buried. Only the granite pillars and the green tiled roof remain above ground. Intricate symbols on the pillars reveal that this was once a shrine to the forest gods and spirits. There is power still in the shrine, and this power can be unlocked by anyone intelligent enough to decipher the patterns of the pillar symbols. Anyone capable of understanding the symbols can try an intelligence check if the player explicitly states that he is investigating the symbols. The first letter of every symbol forms a message when read around the pillar in a circle and so it is with every symbol, from those just below the roof, to those barely visible above the forest soil. All in all four rituals of power can be unveiled by studying the text and those four are: Summon Forest Guardian (Bear or other animal), Awaken Tree Guardian (Ent), Halo of Crows (A swarm of crows to defend and blur those chanting) and Encroaching Mist (Mist covering the forest). The words must be chanted while touching the shrine and will weaken the chanters somewhat. Several people chanting would not be as weakened as a lone chanter attempting to invoke the powers of the shrine.
3. The talking serpent
”What willsssst thou noble lordssss? What errand dosssst thou have in the keep of Almanderssss?” The voice is that of a thin, green tree snake, its yellow eyes flicking back and forth, studying the adventurers. Its voice will be unsettling, evoking nervousness and caution in the adventurers. In reality this serpent is a benevolent guardian of the forest, its questions mirroring the countless fears and questions of the forest spirits. The forest will witness the PCs as they interact with Alamanders and their actions will weigh heavily in how they are treated further on.
4. Odd butterfly patterns
Strange green butterflies, their legs disturbingly long, cling to the bark of an oddly pale tree. They crawl in strings up and down the bark, seemingly at random, and only take flight to avoid being squashed (by some noble player for instance). They do this for about ten minutes, then they take flight and land on the next tree, beginning to crawl on the new tree. The reasons for this behaviour could be anything from mating ritual to harvesting essential nutrients in the bark, as ruled by the GM. The butterflies are highly toxic and should a player try hard enough, he might actually squash some butterflies. Unfortunately they contain a potent contact poison and the PC must now make his save or die. On another note they are sought by alchemists and herbalists alike and will fetch a nice sum if an adventurer manages to harvest enough of them.
5. The Earthen Chambers
As the adventurers traverse the forest (or when they rest/sleep) they are suddenly engulfed by branches and are pulled down into the earth. Heroic strength might free individuals, but this should be hard. Those caught beneath soon discover that the roots withdraw and they are able to breathe stale cold air. However there is little in the way of light. As soon as they find some light they will discover that they are inside some old earth chamber with a corridor leading out into a maze of subterranean tunnels, all earthen walled with only an amazingly dense network of roots holding the earth back. Some of the roots, especially the serpent thin black variant, seem to move seemingly at random, the iridescent gleam of the aforementioned black roots somewhat disturbing. Inside the maze are several dead soldiers and adventurers, and random encounters can be had even down here. At the center of the maze is the Forest Shayde, a Tree Spirit of some power and the controlling force of this subterranean forest prison. On his person the adventurers might find the root Opal, a necklace made of twisting black roots bearing an opal like a branch bears an apple. This necklace can be donned by the adventurers and is in fact magical. It is called “Vhisterthyde” by the forest spirits and gives the user control of roots in the immediate vicinity. However roots favour the owner to such a degree that they entwine and caress him as he sleeps and often he might find himself buried beneath roots and soil as he awakens.
The outer band is ring of forest 15-25 miles in thickness. The forest is very dense with closely packed trees and heavy underbrush. No paths wider then a deer-trail exist through the forest. The roads used to bring construction supplies were replanted long ago and the trees growth accellerated via magic.
The forest is naturally dark and dank, and carefully ensorcelled against fire. Attempts to clear the forest by burning will be limited unless high power magic is used. Even then, the fire will not spread far beyond the immediate area of the magical flame.
The trees are largely a passive defence to stop or slow down major troop movements by making horses, wagons and siege engines difficult to move. Some of the trees present have special 'adjustments' to make clearing roads difficult.
Assume that one needs to cut at least 500 trees to clear 1 mile of pathway (1 per 10' of progress) along with extensive underbrush. The chance of a 'special' tree being encountered is as high as the GM would like it to be. The author would suggest a 5% chance per tree - it is intended to be a signficant obstacle for an invading army. See Appendix A for special trees.
In addition to the special trees heavily seeded through the region, the forests are inhabited by many creatures, great and small.
One can use typical forest random encounters for the world in question, or you could use the list found in Appendix B, Random Forest Encounters.Go to Comment
2 -Whispering Pines - Spooky, but nothing comes of it.
3 -mp (Nighttime)
4 -Charyn Slug(Nighttime at camp)
5 -Cor-Spiders Giant webs will be encountered.
6 -Mirruva Fox- Forest life encounter - not dangerous, just an event. On reoccurrence, substitute any desired temperate-forest wildlife.
7 -Trapper Ants
9 -Swarmsnake Pit
10 -Selvaks On the prowl.
11 - Dire Swine - Dangerous wild boars.
12 - Grove of Dwarven Treeherds- Patrolling for forest despoilers, may or may not be hostile to PCs. Will be hostile if a road is being cleared in the area.
13 - Giant Feral Boar - This massive pig-monstrosity is one of the more active defenders of the Forest. It is the size of a small elephant with massive tusks and vicious hooves. It is highly aggressive and will attack regardless of numbers. There is only one such Boar in the forest. If rerolled, substitute a similarly dangerous forest encounter. This is similar to the Dire Boars, but is a singular creature of great power.
14 -17 Trap! (but only if there are active defenders to maintain them)
1 .. Massive deadfall - Treetrunk will fall if trapline triggered. Tripline is about 1/4 inch and colored to match the local ground.
2 .. Covered pit - 10' deep, optionally spiked or occupied by Swarmsnakes.
3 .. Snare - Strong rope loop will snare a foot - mostly a nuisance, but will activate a noisemaker if the victim struggles.
4 .. Whip trap - A springy sapling will lash across the path at face level. The sapling is studded with poisoned thorns (poison is weak due to effects of the elements, not likely to kill..)