Standing high in the branches of an enormous oak tree, Evaine peered off in the distance. Smoke from dozens of fires blackened the sky, indicating that the orc armada had finally arrived in Blackleaf Forest. From the number of fires and reports sent back to him by various animals, there seemed to be hundreds, maybe even a thousand, of the foul creatures.
Evaine knew that most of the elves and gnomes who lived in that portion of the forest were already dead or enslaved. There was no one left who could fend off the horde . . .or so the orcs thought. Although he was loath to call upon him, Evaine knew there was one entity who could bring the orc invasion to an end. He would have to awaken the Great Sleeper.
He easily slid down the side of the oak and padded to a staggeringly tall tree in the distance. Although the forest floor lay thick with dried leaves from the approaching fall, Evaine made no sound at all. Eventually, he entered an open grove that was home to the Great Sleeper.
Knowing that time was of the essence, Evaine sang a chant to the great tree. For hours, he called and sang at the top of his voice, asking the Great Sleeper to awaken. He pounded on the thick bark and stamped his feet on gnarled roots. He watched intently, and was eventually rewarded by seeing the outlines of facial features move within the bark. Two huge lids opened, and eyes the color of sap turned their gaze toward the druid.
"I hear you, woodsman," rumbled the elder treant, its voice sounding like the cracking and creaking of branches. "Why have you awakened me?"
In slow, patient words, Evaine explained the threat of orc invasion against the forest. When finished, he sat down and rested, knowing that it could take hours for the immense treant to respond. To his surprise, the treant responded after only twenty minutes.
"This must not happen," boomed the treant. "I will awaken my children to protect our home." Suddenly the ground trembled as the elder treant pulled up its roots. Four enormous branchlike arms rose in the air. Evaine felt that the entire forest was shaking apart. He realized that other treants and normal trees were coming to life.
With a grim smile, Evaine knew that there was no place for the orcs to hide. Not when the forest itself was alive....
Although most humanoids believe that treants are among the most ancient creatures in the world, few realize that there are even older and stronger such creatures that live for tens of thousands of years. Elder treants are the undisputed rulers of treantkind and firm defenders of the forests. Elves, druids, rangers, and other forest-lovers also revere them.
Elder treants are awesome to behold, towering above even some of the largest oak trees in the forest. Only rare species of redwoods have reached taller heights. Like normal treants, they combine the features of trees and humans, although it is difficult to discern their facial features with a casual glance. Their faces are kind, but ancient beyond compare, suggesting a wizened crone or sage. Their bark is scarred and blackened from occasional lightning strikes, and thickly covered with moss.
Because of their tremendous life spans, elder treants think incredibly slowly. They spend most of their time in deep meditation and communion with the forest around them. Unlike normal treants, elder treants care little about concepts like good or evil, and seldom go out of their way to provide assistance or hindrance. They are difficult to awaken from their thoughts, but terrible beyond compare when angered.
Like treants, elder treants fear nothing save fire. Their incredibly tough bark can withstand most normal blazes, accepting it as a part of nature. However, they detest any species that uses fire as a weapon -- those who burn and rape the woods without thought. Elder treants have been known to animate entire groves to seek revenge on nearby communities that use fire indiscriminately and destroy part of the forest.
Elder treants speak Treant, plus Common, Elven, and Sylvan.
Elder treants dislike moving at all and will uproot themselves only when things turn dire. They observe their foes carefully and use control plant, entangle, and wall of thorns to hinder or dissuade opponents from approaching.
If that tactic does not work, an elder treant first sends out animated trees, then treants, to deal with problems. Only when all of these tactics fail do elder treants pull themselves out of the ground to attack. They strike with two enormous branchlike claws that can inflict horrific damage.
Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- entangle, plant growth, command plants, control plants. 3/day -- wall of thorns. Caster level 20th; save DC 14 + spell level.
Trample (Ex): As a standard action during its turn each round, an elder treant can literally run over opponents at least one size category smaller than itself. This attack deals 4d12+22 points of bludgeoning damage. A trampled opponent can attempt either an attack of opportunity at a -4 penalty or a Reflex save (DC 42) for half damage.
Animate Trees (Sp): An elder treant can animate trees within 1 mile at will, controlling up to 12 trees at a time. It takes a full round for a normal tree to uproot itself. Thereafter it moves at a speed of 10 and fights as a treant in all respects. Animated trees lose their ability to move if the treant who animated them is incapacitated or moves out of range. The ability is otherwise similar to liveoak as cast by a 20th-level druid.
Bolster Treants (Sp): Once per day, an elder treant can lend some of its enormous energy to all treants and animated trees within 1 mile, gaining a +4 to attack rolls and saving throws. In addition, treants and animated trees do triple damage against objects instead of double.
Fire Vulnerability (Ex): An elder treant or animated tree takes double damage from fire attacks unless the attack allows a save, in which case it takes double damage on a failure and no damage on a success.
Half damage from Piercing (Ex): Piercing weapons deal only half damage to elder treants, with a minimum of 1 point of damage.
Plant Traits (Ex): An elder treant is immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and polymorphing. It is not subject to critical hits or mind-affecting effects. The creature also has low-light vision.
Triple Damage against Objects (Ex): An elder treant who makes a full attack against an object or structure deals double damage.
Skills: Elder treants receive skills and feats as though they were fey*. They have a +20 racial bonus to Hide checks made in forested areas.
Elder treants hail from a different era, when all species lived in harmony with their surroundings. Eventually (some say with the elder treants' aid), other trees evolved into normal treants. The elder treants treated these new creatures like their own offspring and charged them with watching over and protecting the forest.
Treants have tremendous respect and admiration for elder treants. They defer to them in almost every respect and will do everything, including lay down their own lives, to protect them from harm.
Regular treants do not turn into elder treants through size and age; elder treants are a different creature altogether. A few normal treants tower over the elders.
About the Author
Eric Cagle splits his time evenly as an administrative assistant and part-time designer for the R&D Department of Wizards of the Coast. He has written numerous articles for the Web and Dragon, and has contributed to two Star Wars Roleplaying Game products and the D&DArms and EquipmentGuide. Not a lunch hour goes by that doesn't find him writing for, playing, or thinking about a game.
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