You pass through a woodland with a floor that seems remarkably clean of debris. Suddenly your attention is drawn to a twisted bit of wood by the trail side, a short broken twig with several stubs of branches along its length and most of the bark missing. When you reach it, the twig blurs and turns into a small brown lizard, caught in the middle of its body-twisting run. The little reptile darts away down the trail with impossible speed, no doubt magically enhanced, and is lost to sight in a moment. Now someone knows you are coming...
Molk Peruda is encountered by the PCs on the second day of their journey west from the salt-choked port of Quyn, as they prepare to explore the jungle.
He appears a gaunt, wolfish man, with matted, dark hair that sprouts from his head in dreadlocks, contrasting with his well-oiled, blue-black, conical beard. His eyes are hidden ebon shards beneath thick arching brows, his nose, crooked, long, and reminiscent of a snout. His mouth is a thin, dark line, his teeth unseen even when he parts his lips to speak.
His skin is the color of tallow, surprising perhaps for a renowned jungle guide, yet his natural helm of dreads and the jungle's canopy keeps the sun from bronzing his originally pale flesh. On his back are tattooed three women from the waist up, side-by-side, each resembling the other but of different ages. This is a tattoo of Molk's mother, sister, and daughter. His wife (don't bring her up to him!) was killed by marauding Qullan years ago, and appears as her own tattoo on his broad but sunken chest.
His feet shockingly are turned around 180 degrees at the ankle, facing towards his back! A curse from a pernicious shaman. Molk walks feet backwards (he's used to it) and walks backwards, forwards. This can be very disconcerting and outright creepy to the PCs as he guides them through the rainforest.
Slung from his back is an archer's quarrel of treated wood carved to resemble a stalking leopard, in his hand a re-curved composite bow of horn and sinew, with a pair of vivid, red eyes, each one painted on the opposite side of the hand-grip. In a leather sheath at his belt, hangs a falchion, its pommel adorned with a curved bird's head and beak.
A wild species, vinus homophagus, more akin to sea-grape rather than the terrestrial variety, is not a monster despite its fanciful name. The grapes, a deep purple color when in bloom, and oozing dewdrops of perspiration, like the most prized and delectable of drinking wine grapes, do however deserve their moniker. Wine made from this fruit, is deadly to most humanoids, as is the raw berry, if plucked and eaten from the vine. It is the unnatural chemical concoction found within the fruit’s tart skin, which gives the man-eating grape its name. The chemical stew found inside each berry, functions as a necrotic agent, the same as found in some species of venomous snakes. The grapes literally eat the victim from the inside out, via cell death, dissolving organs and flesh in quick succession.
The tribes of Pra-Oohk Crater, from the jungles of Ghlush are known to sell the fermented “wine” of this grape to merchants of distant lands. Sadly, the taste of the concoction is divine when first quaffed, and even worse, the man-eating grape wine will never detect as poisonous via mundane means, its horrid natures somehow masking all attempts. Luckily the man-eating grapes are extremely rare, and endemic to humid jungles.
The party is walking through the forest at night when they come upon a clearing. Half a dozen black-robed corpses lie scattered across the ground, and a pentagram of blood is shoddily drawn in the dirt.
It seems these people summoned something they could not control. Whether or not the demon returns is up to the GM, but it would be just as rich if the demon never returned, and for the rest of the night, every stray sound or odd shadow will be jumped at!
A fey spirit masks itself as a bee which investigates all who travel within a specific section of the forest. Any the bee finds worthy are allowed to see the hidden opening into the fey kingdom, just off of the trail. Any deemed unworthy see only the bee, buzzing around around them momentarily before moving on.
A small band of squirrels seems to be fighting high up in a tree over a shiny nut-sized object. Can you retrieve the prize without scaring the squirrels into running off with it? If they do, can you manage to chase them down?
There are reports of a monster that lurks in the tops of trees and drops down on unsuspecting people. It causes them no damage but it frightens them with a hide-like face with big dead eyes, drooling and barking like a dog while unsuccessfully attempting to have intercourse. The PCs investigate and find that it is the local village moron that is doing the spelunking in the woods. How can they explain this otherwise pleasant and merry man that it is wrong to put on a mask, drop down from trees and attempt intercourse with relatives and neighbours.
The babies of a small village has been disappearing lately, rumour has it that a demon living in the forest has taken them. The monster has the appearance of a shriveled old woman. A hag, disheveled, with maniacal appearance, wild-looking hair, and an oversized gaping mouth. Long pendelous breasts. The villagers say she eats the newborns and has sharp claws that are created for mangling. No one dears to challenge her, enter the PCs.
The road has never been more than an overgrown mud track, little travelled and little cared for, petered out to nothing more than a flattened earthen line, barely distinguishable from the rest of the landscape. The soil is dark and fecund and dark oaks stand like sentinels at the forest edge, their branches high and leafy. From them hang grizzly human bones, skulls and shiny precious stones. Who put these strange totems there? Are they warnings? Do the PCs dare to take the stones?
The PCs see a large oak tree, a curious species of yellow and black butterflies swarm around it. Upon further inspection they find that the tree is hollow and that there is an underground cave in it from which the butterflies appear. Will they inspect this strange cave?
at a place were magic gathers, for what ever reason, the trees of this place produce fruit that is filled with magic energies . these fruits when eaten cause different effects. much like the potion a wizard makes.
When the characters approach a clearing in the forest, they will see 4 ogres who are guarding, and preventing from escape, 4 human males, and 3 human females. The ogres will see the party and leap to attack. The females will scream "OUR SAVIORS!!" and run screaming straight across the currently forming battlefield, in between ogres and party members, to hide behind the rearmost party members. They will be safe there. The males will try to skirt the battle to the north side to join the women.
To the south, giants will be hiding in the thick underbrush until the party has engaged the ogres and then attack the most opportune target EXCEPT the ones that the females are next to.
It should be noted that the female commoners are not female commoners at all, nor are the male commoners actually male commoners. The female commoners are the hags, who have polymorphed themselves as the commoners in their stewpot to escape detection. The males skirting the battle are actually MORE ogres, the hags were in the process of polymorphing ALL the ogres into regular humans for ambush purposes. The REAL commoners are already dead, having found their way into the coven's cauldron for dinner.
The hags (the women) will position themselves near to any spellcasters in the rear first, and then near anyone else in the back of the fight. The ogres (the men) will wait until the hags shift form, and then attack first the rear folks, then shift into the melee.
It is possible that the characters, as they approach the ogres, will notice the giants in the bush, and be able to warn the others of the ambush.
GAME NOTES: If you sell the screaming women correctly, they will not even be suspected until it is too late. Therein lay the problem. This encounter is ESPECIALLY deadly to the rear eschelon of the party. It is entirely possible that the hags will finish off half the party before they even realize they have been duped. Caution is required if the game master wishes to avoid a TPK(total party kill).
Magical forests are never a good place to sleep, especially seeing as much of the population is nocturnal. Firewood taken from the wrong tree can turn against its collectors, and a strangling onslaught of angry twigs and branches can be surprisingly severe and difficult to disentangle yourself from. Fires themselves attract enemies, and not only malevolent predators. Giant moths and gloomwings are tempted by the heat and light, but are often misunderstood.
The players see a small shrine to the local nature deity just of the trail. Before they even approach it, they can smell the foul stench of rotting meat. If they inspect the shrine, they can see it has been desecrated by rotting organs in the last few days. There is no mistaking it for an obscure ritual, the organs are thrown everywhere, not left in specific places as in sacrifice.
If the players try to clean the shrine, they will soon find it has been boobytrapped to fling sharp splinters covered in the rotting gore in every direction. While only doing a few points of damage, they injured players will likely take sick soon unless they get medical attention.
The heroes find the crumbling, overgrown ruins of what appears to be some sort of grand dining hall in the forest. Deciding that it is a good place to camp, the set up a fire in the center. However, they are woken in the night to see skeletons waltzing in the moonlight to organ music that emanates from the open air. The skeletons touch nobody, dancing around them all night.
A slight rustle of the wind... and it stands before you. A Unicorn, whiter and more beautiful than you ever imagined it. It has deep wonderful eyes, and you can't help but admire this creature. It came to have a look at you, and now it freely goes. You have not the heart to stop it, and it silently vanishes between the trees.
Note: unless specially needed, this encounter should never happen again.
A friendly human hunter has a talk with you about what you are doing here, and how is the weather. He advises you to not disturb the animals, tend to any fire you set, etc. This is actually a werewolf checking his territory, and if you are not to his liking, he may ambush you with his pack later.
Bag on a Stick
Very simple gag but a great one, since it can be used multiple times over, even in the same adventure. Great for tribal natives gone restless and humanoids, but anyone can have set this up. Just what the header says, a simple bag over a stick stuck in the ground or floor.
As GM you can place the bag on a stick anywhere, in a floor crack the heroes have passed before, outdoors in a clearing or path, or at the edge of the PCs' encampment the following morning, what have you. Place anything on the stick - a coiled yellow viper angered by the bag removal, mini crossbow w/poison, transdermal hallucinatory drug dusted on the bag, yellow mold colony, an NPC ally's head, a weapon, scroll tube or satchel, what have you.
The idea is to build tension and/or stall for time/distract the party. Provided it's used properly, you'll be amazed at how paranoid players will get from this simple gag.