OK... so let's answer Dragon Lord's questions finally:
The Stump may simply desire company, of _some_ selected humanoids, that is. As for its long-stadning goals, I am not sure... anybody has an idea? Anything besides protecting nature & stuff.
As for the villagers needs, the tree - being on the place for hundreds of years - may have a deep feeling for the surrounding, so it can predict what the weather will be like, for example. Which is of prime importance to farmers. And it would be an ill omen if the Stump suddenly made a mistake... a mark of a great Change coming.
This way, it could serve for setting up the mood of a campaign. (No need to quote a certain Ent of LOTR about change in the world.) Go to Comment
I thought him to be a lonely being, known perhaps to a few wise people, witches and sages around... but correctly, the magnificient uncaring creature you cannot lie to (it reads emotions) could be seen by some as a servant of their god, embodiment of a spirit, and would be sought for advice or only for the comfort of being nearby (especially buddhist-like and meditative religions may have interest in this).
(Reminder: it doesn't have a mouth or other means of talking. Telepathic as it is, it doesn't have the power to invade the minds of other beings... or simply never starts the talk.)
Weird plot option: There was this tree you could get information from, but somebody uprooted it and carted away! Find out who it was and why. And if there is some evil behind it (as sure it is), prevent it. Go to Comment
There are magics that make one forget something. Sure they need some kind of a saving throw, but those that are willing to undergo the spell would have an easier time to forget. The cult naturally cannot cast the spell on everyone, it is but a way in the last stages of THE plan.
It might eventually come to a situation, when they know they all have chosen to forget something to free their god. God not coming? Hmmm... the high priest should have some reminder somewhere, just in case.
If the mountains are a deity, we could turn the whole plot on its head. Would mean they want to destroy it. Or, turning on its head once again... They destroy their expected deity with that saving attempts! Head starts to hurt now. Go to Comment
Reminds me in some ways of the "Untouchables", the lowest caste in India.
The Untouchables do the dirty jobs dealing with the death, blood, and similar unclean things. While this are usually the harder jobs, they can become successfull, and even rich to a degree. Which of course angers most people around. It was for some reason they were born into this caste, the lowest. So, if you get higher then you should, someone will find the time to stamp you down.
You could also have your generic cursed item being responsible for the misbehavior - or not, simple greed is already a good enough reason.
I think I have even used this at some point... the local baron was really digging for the wine cellar, and an opening was found. Sending guards in, they didn't return, so promptly were some adventurers recruited. On the spot was a little crowd of workers, looking as if they were paid for doing nothing (and they were), and eager to tell some horror stories to the chumps going in ("He was but an inch from getting out, but then a giant hand pulled him back!" - "Yeah, and it had claws THIS big!" - "And he screamed as if they were tearing the very soul out of him!")
Truth is, it was a forgotten part of the castle's secret corridors, and the guards really deserted after finding a wealth in treasure. Tramping around might reveal more, but also a few family secrets... like that one black sheep, who worshipped a dark cult, complete with a little unholy temple. Or the little ghostly girl, that was lost long ago, actually neglected by her caretaker who didn't want to share the inheritance. Watch your steps, in this dungeon, and when you are out of it.
Now in the movies: Vychan the Flamespewer. With a little travelling in time, you see will what happened to the small baby-dragon. Dragons and humans working together! See it now, or order the DVD! Go to Comment
Add something weird at full moon- you can shapechange into a wolf , get some druidic ability or so. If sleeping, you dream of being an animal freely walking the night... player will be soon afraid of lycanthropy.
And do not forget druids may want this staff also... Go to Comment
Another solid item associated with the wolvenkind. It has a logical background and powers (there is that thing about the alignement... but can be changed into 'feeling evil intentions' easily). Go to Comment
Hmmm... perhaps there was some (evil?) spirit inside,calmed in its grave and now it is free to revenge on the builder of its grave and his descendants (after 200 years it may be a few). If the heroes dont save this people,they are on the list. Go to Comment
And if they have some powerful enemies,stealing the corpse of their ancestors could lead to some unusual form of revenge.
The least imaginative thing would be animating to kill...
but try something like erasing their existence before they were even born. Go to Comment
Turn the whole thing on the head:
Let a big slimy monster emerge and let it state clearly that it has finally enough of those little round metalic pieces and it does not want any more. Understand?
(Extreme: the gold/silver/brass is upsetting the ecology of the lake somewhat - solve that ;-)
To save the day the heroes must convince numerous people to stop with the donations. Go to Comment
Herbalist in the group mistakes one plant for another and mistakenly poisons the group. Not to death, but pretty darn ill with recurring symptoms until the cause and cure are realized. (Local people may be able to help rather easily. "You ate Dragon's Rot you fool, looks and smells just like mint except it has these small thistles on the root. Only grow in the Hornwood Forest, that must be where ya got them. Eat this and you will feel better in 4 hours."