Far Corners of the World
Monsters of the Woodlands
(Cathedral of Leaves)
By James Jacobs

Forest - Rob AlexanderThe forest is alive. Not only do plants and animals bring it to life, but more sinister creatures lurk in the dark recesses of the deadfall, the tangled pits of roots, and even in the looming canopies above. Many of these monsters have become notorious among adventurers, explorers, and others who wander the woodlands; what adventurer hasn't heard of the tendriculos, monstrous spiders as big as a horse (or bigger), ravenous owlbears, or worst of all, of green dragons? Yet other dangers lurk in the depths of the woods, dangers that rarely leave the heart of the forest . . .

Mosslord
Large Plant
Hit Dice: 20d8+180 (270 hp)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class: 29 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +19 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 28
Base Attack/Grapple: +15/+30
Attack: Tentacle +25 melee (2d6+11)
Full Attack: 6 tentacles +25 melee (2d6+11)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Brainlance, improved grab, mossy transformation
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 15/magic and slashing, immune to fire, low-light vision, mental reflection, plant traits, telepathy 100 ft.
Saves: Fort +21, Ref +9, Will +12
Abilities: Str 33, Dex 12, Con 28, Int 15, Wis 18, Cha 19
Skills: Escape Artist +24, Hide +22, Jump +15, Listen +27, Move Silently +3, Spot +27, Use Rope +1 (+3 bindings)
Feats: Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Stealthy
Environment: Temperate forests
Organization: Solitary or swath (one mosslord plus 1d4+4 shambling mounds)
Challenge Rating: 16
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Always chaotic neutral
Advancement: 21-25 HD (Large), 26-35 HD (Huge), 36-40 HD (Gargantuan)
Level Adjustment: --

What at first seemed to be a moss covered deadfall suddenly lurches upright into a vaguely humanoid form, except that instead of a head and arms it merely has a writhing nest of six long, powerful tentacles. Its legs are stocky and splay outward, merging with the surrounding vegetation and uprooting with a nauseating wet rip as it moves.

Some say the first mosslords are the unfortunate result of illithid experiments where they infused surface vegetation with powerful psionic energies. Why the mind flayers would seek to perform such experiments is unclear, although it likely has something to do with their endless pursuit of creating slave races that can exist and operate on the surface. Whatever the original reason, the illithids seem to have cut all contact with these creations, which have since established themselves as powerful menaces in many of the darker forests in the world. Often, increased shambling mound activity is a direct result of the arrival of a new mosslord.

Although they seem like mere plants, the mosslord is in fact a highly intelligent and dangerous predator. It relentlessly stalks all nonplant life in a large reach of woodland and seeks to eradicate all such life or transform it into something more pleasing. A mosslord becomes less aggressive once it has denuded a region of forest several square miles in size of all animal life, and it usually reacts to new intrusions with terrible focus. Rarely, a creature with a close bond to nature (such as a druid or fey) can approach close enough to a mosslord to try to communicate via the mosslord's telepathy. Mosslords sometimes take a liking to such creatures and refrain from attempting to transform them into plants. In fact, they often spend long hours conversing with them on topics that interest plant life.

A mosslord stands 15 feet tall and weighs 3,000 pounds.

Mosslords understand Common and Sylvan, and though they have no vocal apparatus, they can communicate telepathically with any creature that can speak a language.

Combat

A mosslord is remarkably adept at hiding, despite its large size, and it usually lies in wait once it detects a nearby nonplant target. Once it attacks, it fights with great tactical skill, using the surrounding terrain as cover and brainlancing any spellcasters before moving in to crush foes with its tentacles and transform them into something more to its liking.

Brainlance (Su): Once a round, a mosslord can emit a powerful lance of focused psionic energy as a free action. It can target any creature with an Intelligence within 60 feet with this brainlance. The creature targeted must make a successful DC 24 Will saving throw or be stunned for 1d4 rounds and take 1d6 points of Intelligence damage. A successful Will save indicates that the target is dazed for 1 round, after which it can act normally; it is also immune to that particular mosslord's brainlance power for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Improved Grab (Ex): If a mosslord hits an opponent with a tentacle attack, it deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it gets a hold, it can use its mossy transformation attack on the creature grappled. Thereafter, the mosslord has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use its tentacle to hold the opponent (-20 penalty on grapple check, but the mosslord is not considered grappled). In either case, each successful grapple check it makes during successive rounds allows it to use its mossy transformation attack.

Mossy Transformation (Su): A nonplant, living creature grappled by a mosslord must make a successful DC 29 Fortitude saving throw each round or suffer 1d6 points of Dexterity drain; the victim must make a separate saving throw for each tentacle currently grappling it. A victim drained to 0 Dexterity collapses inward on itself, turning into an inert heap of dark green moss. Over the course of the next 1d4 rounds, the victim's mossy carcass swells and transforms into a shambling mound. The shambling mound is free-willed, yet regards the mosslord that created it as an ally and does what it can to serve its creator. A victim transformed in this manner is not dead, but it retains no memories, abilities, or skills from its past life. A wish or miracle can restore the victim to its prior form (restoring all drained Dexterity in the process). A break enchantment against DC 30 can also revert the victim to its true form (but its Dexterity score remains at 0 until other magic restores it). The saving throw DC is Constitution-based.

Mental Reflection (Su): A mosslord is a plant, and therefore it is immune to mind-affecting attacks. Worse, its powerful mind can usurp control over mind-affecting attacks that are initiated within the range of its telepathy (a 100-foot radius), no matter where they are aimed. Any creature that uses a mind-affecting attack while in this area has a 50% chance that the attack is reflected back upon him, as if the mosslord itself used the attack against him. If an attack is reflected, the original target of the attack is not affected by the attack. A mosslord always reflects mind-affecting attacks that target it specifically. This power has no effect on the brainlance power of other mosslords. This power also doesn't work against mind-affecting attacks delivered by touch or against effect and area mind-affecting attacks.

Mulcher
Medium Ooze
Hit Dice: 2d10+14 (25 hp)
Initiative: -5
Speed: 10 ft. (2 squares)
Armor Class: 9 (-5 Dex, +4 natural), touch 5, flat-footed 9
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+1
Attack: Slam +1 melee (1d4 plus 1d4 acid)
Full Attack: Slam +1 melee (1d4 plus 1d4 acid)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Stench, trip
Special Qualities: Blindsight 60 ft., camouflage, immune to acid and cold, ooze traits
Saves: Fort +7, Ref -5, Will -5
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 1, Con 24, Int --, Wis 1, Cha 1
Skills: Hide -5*, Jump -12
Feats: Improved Trip(B)
Environment: Temperate forests
Organization: Solitary, pair, or colony (3-8)
Challenge Rating: 2
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 3-6 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment: --

A patch of branches, twigs, and pine needles stirs and rises up, as if something were buried below. In moments, it becomes clear that what lurks below the fallen bits of bark and pinecones is a shapeless swath of translucent sludge that reeks with a powerful acrid stench.

The mulcher is a dangerous ooze that lurks under several layers of fallen debris along the forest floor. It slithers along the ground, covered by a protective layer of bark and branches, and is constantly on the prowl for a carcass to clamber into and feed upon. Yet they aren't picky eaters -- a mulcher won't usually seek out and attack other creatures, but if they come upon something sleeping in the forest, or if an unwary wanderer steps upon one, they can react with blind and terrible power.

Combat

A mulcher's attack consist of a thin tendril that tries to wrap around a creature's leg and unbalance it. The acid exuded by a mulcher eats away only flesh and bone; it has no effect on vegetable matter or wood, stone, metal, or other substances.

Stench (Ex): When a mulcher moves, its body exudes a powerfully unpleasant acrid stink. All living creatures within 5 feet of a mulcher that make at least a move or a standard action must make a DC 18 Fortitude saving throw or be sickened for 1 round. A delay poison or neutralize poison spell removes the effect from a sickened creature. Creatures with immunity to poison are unaffected, and creatures resistant to poison receive their normal bonus on their saving throws. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Trip (Ex): Whenever a mulcher hits a creature that is flat-footed, or critically hits any creature, it can immediately make a free trip attack against the creature.

Camouflage (Ex): The mulcher's body is transparent, almost like water, and as such it is quite difficult to notice it when it is not in motion. A mulcher gains a +20 racial bonus on Hide checks in natural areas as a result.

Murderjack
Medium Fey
Hit Dice: 15d6+60 (112 hp)
Initiative: +7
Speed: 50 ft. (10 squares), climb 50 ft.
Armor Class: 21 (+3 Dex, +6 natural, +2 leather armor), touch 13, flat-footed 18
Base Attack/Grapple: +7/+12
Attack: Claw +13 melee (1d6+5)
Full Attack: 2 claws +13 melee (1d6+5)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Frightening presence, sneak attack +7d6, spells
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 10/cold iron, low-light vision, spell resistance 21, sudden lunge, woodland concealment
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +12, Will +10
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 17, Con 18, Int 15, Wis 13, Cha 22
Skills: Bluff +24, Climb +31, Diplomacy +8, Escape Artist +21, Hide +21, Intimidate +8, Jump +13, Knowledge (nature) +22, Move Silently +21, Search +20, Survival +19 (+21 following tracks or in aboveground natural environments)
Feats: Combat Reflexes, Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Improved Initiative, Track, Weapon Focus (claw)
Environment: Temperate forests
Organization: Solitary, pair, or gang (3-8)
Challenge Rating: 9
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: 16-45 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment: --

The creature steps out from behind the gnarled tree on legs a bit too thin and a bit too long to be truly human. Its overall shape is humanoid, except it is emaciated nearly to the point of being skeletal. Its skin has a mottled brown and green hue, and it almost looks like tree bark in texture. Its long arms each end in three-fingered hands tipped with long, curved talons with cruel serrations along the inner curve. Yet the menace's head is perhaps the most disturbing. Roughly human-shaped, its face is that of a handsome elven man, except that the eyes and mouth are cold, dark gashes that flicker with tiny motes of light, like stars in the night sky.

Stories where sinister humanoid shapes flit through the depths of supposedly haunted woods are strangely common in some parts of the world. Sightings of murderjacks may inspire the majority of these stories. A murderjack is a cruel, capricious, and always sadistic fey that dwells in heavily forested areas. They are quite intelligent, and they often group together in tightly knit groups that hunt in packs. A group of murderjacks usually seeks out a solitary individual and uses the frightful presence ability to drive the victim deep into the forest where it becomes lost. The murderjacks then spend several days tormenting the poor soul, racing in to cut and slash at him until bleeding lacerations cover the victim's body. Eventually, when the victim collapses from fatigue, the murderjacks approach and cure his wounds, only to repeat the torment anew upon his waking. Only when the victim seems about ready to take his own life or escape do the murderjacks swarm, tearing the poor soul limb from limb and draping the red ribbons that remain over the trees for miles around.

A murderjack is 7 feet tall but weighs only 100 pounds.

Murderjacks speak Common and Sylvan.

Combat

The murderjack has no interest in fair fights. It prefers to use hit-and-run tactics over the course of several hours or even days, leaving its victim both horrified and fatigued. Only when murderjacks are confident that they outclass their victim, or they outnumber him, do they attack. When in a group, they work together to flank foes and keep them confused and disorganized with their spells and frightful presence.

Frightning Presence (Su): When a murderjack charges or attacks, it inspires terror in all creatures within 30 feet that have fewer Hit Dice or levels than it has. Each potentially affected opponent must succeed at a DC 23 Will save or become panicked. Creatures with equal or more Hit Dice become shaken only on a failed save. If a victim (whatever its Hit Dice) is caught in the range of three or more murderjacks and fails to resist at least three of their frightningpresence effects, she also suffers 1d4 points of Wisdom damage from the soul-numbing fear. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Spells: A murderjack can cast arcane spells as a 10th-level bard (3/5/5/3/1). A typical murderjack knows the following spells: 0 -- dancing lights, ghost sound, lullaby, mage hand, message, prestidigitation; 1st -- cure light wounds, expeditious retreat, sleep (DC 17), ventriloquism (DC 17); 2nd -- cat's grace, cure moderate wounds, detect thoughts (DC 18), hold person (DC 18); 3rd -- confusion (DC 19), cure serious wounds, deep slumber (DC 19), slow (DC 19); 4th -- dimension door, locate creature.

Woodland Concealment (Su): In woodland areas, the murderjack's green and brown seems to blur and fade into the brackground. Attacks directed at the murderjack when it is in a woodland area suffer a 20% miss chance.

Sudden Lunge (Su): Once per hour, a murderjack can move up to its speed as a free action. A murderjack often uses this ability to rush an opponent during the surprise round so it can make a sneak attack.


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