Four: The Tree
is a short adventure for four 9th-level characters. The party can consist
of any mix of classes, but it should include at least one character that
is good in wilderness settings, such as a druid, ranger, or barbarian,
and at least one cleric. This scenario should prove a reasonable challenge
for characters from 8th to 10th level. The adventure takes place in a
swampland that is near a small settlement.
attempted to cross back through the swamp to their base of operations.
Along the way, they may have got stuck in mud and probably were attacked
by a variety of flying insects. They arrive just a bit too late to stop
a massacre that occurred back at Crivdall -- the fort is ruined and it
appears that almost everyone is dead or missing.
an insane half-orc druid who has mastery of vermin and insects, attacked
Crivdall with his insects. He has often infiltrated Crivdall by posing
as a harmless elf hermit who lives in the wood. In reality, he wants the
settlers destroyed and out of his swamp.
The Surviving Force
giant insects remain in the compound and attack the characters on sight.
Giant Praying Mantis (2):
hp 17, 11; see Monster Manual page 206.
Giant Stag Beetle: hp 25; see Monster Manual page
Hoc XP Adjustment: Since
the insects are wounded, the PCs gain only half of the XP normally granted
for this encounter.
A Cry for Help
characters investigate the ruins of Crivdall, read or paraphrase the following
settlement is in complete disarray. Almost everywhere you look,
you see horribly mutilated bodies of the villagers that were torn
to shreds by cruel claws and fangs. Some corpses are blackened from
terrible poison. Bodies of all manner of giant insects litter the
courtyard: scorpions, centipedes, ants, wasps, and beetles -- some
reaching enormous sizes. Several buildings are still smoldering
and probably burned down due to knocked-over torches and spreading
first, it seems as if no one is left alive, but then you hear a
lone, quiet voice asking for help.
PCs seek out the source of this voice, read the following:
searching for the source of the voice, you find the sole survivor
of Crivdall -- an elderly man who you recognize as Ulrich, the settlement's
quartermaster. He is near death due to the cuts and tears in his
body, and he twitches involuntarily.
the PCs to make appropriate checks and cast any healing spells that they
may have left. Ulrich has been poisoned by a huge monstrous scorpion;
refer to the Monster Manual for the scorpion's poison information.
Regardless of whether the PCs heal him or not, he tries to tell them what
happened. When given a chance, he states the following. Be sure to interject
coughs and spasms if he isn't fully healed. If he isn't healed of the
poison, it runs its course and kills him. Otherwise, he should be fine:
came just after you left," he gasps. "As if they were
waiting for you to get out in the swamp. We fought as hard as we
could, but there were far too many of them. We noticed someone moving
among them. He called out in some blasphemous language."
it was obvious that we were done for, he pulled back his cloak.
It was Aleretheral! That elf that lives out in the swamp!"
He points off to the north. "We trusted him . . . he traded
with us many times. Find him and bring us vengeance, please. He
lives in a large tree . . . in the swamp. There's a map in my cabin."
can point out the cabin in question. The PCs can see that the cabin is
not entirely damaged but it's obvious that if anything flammable is inside,
it won't last for long.
check (DC 13) of reveals several ledgers and maps. One of the maps is
a relatively new map made by the inhabitants of the village and it reveals
several landmarks they have discovered in the swamp around them. On it,
they find a marking indicating a large tree with the word "elf"
written next to it. There is no scale to the map. (It should take four
hours to get to the tree if the characters walk.)
characters leave to investigate the tree, they encounter no resistance
other than the slow pace of marching through the swamp. The map is very
accurate and leads them directly to the tree.
The Tree (EL 8)
deep in the swamp is the tree of Aleretheral (use the Swamp map). Read
or paraphrase the following text to the players:
several hours, you come across an enormous mangrove tree standing
alone in the water. A series of small houses nestles in its boughs,
though vines and moss cover these houses to some extent. A rickety
stairwell spirals up the trunk of the tree. Dim lights flicker inside
several of the buildings.
characters approach the tree, they make it halfway across the waist-deep
water before being attacked by an enormous centipede (bigger than anyone
has seen before) that rises out of the water.
Monstrous Centipede: hp 136; see Monster Manual page
(and if) the characters defeat the monstrous centipede, what horrors remain
inside the fortress of the mad druid Aleretheral?
Cagle splits his time evenly as the administrative assistant and part-time
designer for the R&D department of Wizards of the Coast. In addition
to numerous web articles, he has written several articles for Dragon
Magazine, contributed to two Star Wars RPG products, and contributed
to the Arms and Equipment Guide for D&D. A lunch
hour rarely goes by where he isn't writing for, playing, or thinking about