Plunger’s Poorly Placed Potatoes
Those Terrifying Tumbling Tubers: The Tale
Plunger Geist has two problems.
The first, is, of course, his name. Following a special tendency towards originality and exploration, it is a somewhat sad fact to point out the Plunger’s parents decided to name their sons after words that sounded solidly satisfactory.
Regardless, Plunger managed to get through life far easier than his sister, Verruca.
The second, and substantially more pressing of the pair, is Plunger’s potatoes. Mer Geist currently resides in the Satyr’s Tail, a large tavern set astride the West Trail skirting Jhak’s Forest. He has been able to obtain free lodging from the inn’s proprietor for some time now by acting as the official cook for the Tail, allowing Plunger to combine his two great loves- eating and sleeping. Plunger Geist has also staked out a small garden behind the inn, where he grows his prized Magnus tuberosum, also known affectionately as plungatoes. These enormous potatoes can swell up to a foot in length, and are highly coveted as delicacies despite their incredible physical size.
This year, however, his crop has been an abysmal failure- not because of any biological error, but rather because somebody has stolen Plunger’s prized tubers. Who could do such a thing? And for what cause?
If the adventurers hear about Plunger’s quandary, it is likely due to the fact that they are in the Tail themselves, making the quest very easy to initiate. Plunger doesn’t stray for from the inn, because he doesn’t really need to move. Occasionally, he’ll join a merchant caravan and travel to the cities in order to purchase rare gardening equipment, but for the most part he stays within the confines of the tavern. Any of the inn’s regulars or staff know about the quandary, as Plunger has locked himself within the kitchen and refuses to come out.
When assistance is offered, a teary-eyed Plunger opens the door and relays his tale to the adventurers. If asked and coaxed a little, he will bring them to the patch of ground where the plungatoes normally resided. It doesn’t take much to notice that the string used to fence the compound has been broken. Nor is it difficult to notice the large piles of dirt marring the earth where the potatoes were supposed to be. Anyone particularly skilled in the arts of tracking or woodland lore will note the odd resemblance between the dirt piles and molehills.
Further investigation will show a trail of lightly crushed brush leading directly towards the forest.
Jhak’s Forest is a completely open-ended location in and of itself- it could be filled with hideous snapsaw flaymonsters, or could be a whimsical and magical place quite friendly to new visitors. Whatever the case, a GM may have the players spend as much (or as little) time in the Forest before they stumble across the Grove.
Normally, a site of paracosmic significance is deigned a title by cartographers and explorers- unfortunately, few have been able to discover the Grove, and those who have are hardly in the correct shape to report their findings. The Grove is an area devoid of heavy vegetation some three hundred feet across- no trees grow within its corrupted boundaries. Filled with mostly rotting plants, the Grove is not difficult to locate- but it is quite hard to escape from.
Dominated by a single enormous (and quite dead) cedar, the Grove is actually home to a particularly deranged necromancer by the name of Seamus Rhine. He resides within the hollowed-out shell of the dominant tree, performing horrendous and diabolical experiments on whatever he can find. Flayed skin covers his walls (mostly to keep the water out, but also for ambiance), and gigantic ribs torn from enormous beasts help shore up any rotting parts of the tree. Seamus may be a necromancer, but it doesn’t mean that he’s not a DIY man. Besides which, the inside of a dead tree is not exaclty prime real estate.
The confrontation itself occurs whenever the heroes set foot within 50 feet of the center of the Grove.
“Ach, looks lik ah’m aboot to get some noo wallpaper for me abode…”
Seamus sits quite nonchalantly on a rotting stump, fiddling with a pipe made from a human femur. If the heroes make any move to engage him, or retreat (or anything, really), a rampant torrent of rotting plant matter bursts from various regions of the Grove to engage them.
If and when the corrupted hulks of vegetation are slain, Seamus disappears within his macabre mansion, muttering something about “…thos’ bloody great toobers…”
When the heroes burst through the fleshy door of the tree, they are immediately taken aback by the sights and smells that confront them. The inanimate body of a Burlap Golem, rent nearly in two, is used as a combination of sleeping bag and mattress. A bubbling jar of what looks like noses with tiny muscled feet bodes ominously beside it. Occasionally, a bubble stirs the slick green fluid and one of the noses jumps away in fright.
Finally, the presence of a set of bagpipes reveal a truly deranged mind.
As the inside of a tree is not very large, Seamus’ home is extremely cluttered. However, the trapdoor leading underneath the tree is fairly easy to find.
The trapdoor leads to the ancient root system of the cedar, patiently excavated by some of the more durable necromantic constructs created by Seamus Rhine. If the heroes make it down the rickety ladder to the floor of the cavern, they find Seamus standing in front of two hulking mounds, cast in shadow.
“So, ye invaded me humble home wi’ nae more concern than a passing ruffian, hey? Weel, we cannae hae that… let’s see hae ye deal wi’this.”
At that, the two hulking shapes drop out of the shadows and slither towards the PCs.
They look very much like enormous necromantic potatoes.
Indeed, Seamus was the man originally responsible for robbing Plunger Geist of his prized crop. Potatoes are pretty potent organisms- capable of surviving in extreme conditions, extremely dense and durable, and even capable of growing pseudopods when left to their own. Apparently, the perfect crop for a necromancer’s work…
These plungatoes, however, resemble their more palatable cousins very little. At seven feet tall, the gargantuan potatoes are horrible to behold. Horribly buckled skin shows seething masses of corrupted flesh- each plungatoe has a series of irregular and asymmetrical bloodshot ‘eyes’ that focus wildly in and out of usefulness. They occasionally ooze a thin, corrosive trail of grease and mold, and are propelled by a slithering forest of flexible white stalks.
Seamus fights to the death with his two horrible minions, attempting to kill one of the heroes and animate his corpse to fight the others. During the fight, he should spout terrible witticisms such as:
“Och, we’re goon tae peel ye alive!”
“Prepare to geet fried!”
When he is finally slain, the heroes can find a single plungatoe shackled to a wall, looking somewhat dejected.
Seamus Rhine, previously a gardener and rival to Plunger Geist’s father, turned to the darker side of life after a particularly vicious and damaging confrontation at a local Flower Competition, where his prized Mahagova Snapdragons were crushed after devouring some of its competition. Rhine swore vengeance, and fused his botanical knowledge with new readings of the necromantic arts (hence his affinity for plant based magic).
The Plungatoes were stolen for no lingering malevolence towards the Geist family, but rather because Seamus realized the necromantic potential of an enormously dense, solid, and durable plant. Indeed, other necromancers may be able to achieve similar results, but few have Seamus’ knowledge of plants.
Of course, Plunger Geist is slightly creeped out that somebody has stolen his crop and attempted to raise a horrible necromantic army with it. Indeed, after the incident he intends to build a much thicker wall around his potatoes, with spikes pointing inwards.
He pays the heroes lavishly with a greasy bundle filled with, what else, fried plungatoe. These have mild healing properties, but are quite delicious and could be sold (at least, if the heroes hurry) for quite some money.
If the heroes don’t burn the corpses of the necromantic plungatoes, however, they may hear rumors of terrible hulking beasts bringing down deer and hunters alike in Jhak’s Forest at a later date…