Argh! My first late Blogger entry in more than a year…and my first late Tumblr entry EVER. It’s my own fault, too: I got greedy. I wrote the quickwood entry, then tried to make it a plant monster double feature with the alraune for reader Sincubus, who’s a fan of both. Alas, I got interrupted by a work party thrown by these guys for these guys…which ran late…aaaaand now it’s after midnight. Apologies to all for the tardiness…and I’ll get to the alraune eventually.
Does fantasy role-playing have an iconic killer tree? We have plenty of killer plants—nobody likes assassin vines or shambling mounds or giant flytraps. But what about the classic evil tree?
Well I nominate the quickwood. It’s never a bad idea to have a tree with a horrible jagged bole-mouth to bite PCs—especially when those bites come as a +4 free attack. And it’s spell-resistant to boot! Excellent…
PS: It’s hard to overstate the importance of oak for pre-medieval societies, in terms of its strength and utility (lumber, food and animal feed (acorns), firewood) and mythic/religious significance (including being sacred to pretty much every thunder god, as well as where you find dryads and mistletoe). So a tree that lives among oaks and turns them into spies is pretty much the worst thing ever to a peasant. In a well-thought-out fantasy society, helping the locals kill quickwoods free of charge might just be one of those things you do as an adventurer out of custom (similar to the way even today cruise ships stop what they’re doing to help the Coast Guard with rescues). No adventurer can be asked to solve every town’s woes—goblins, hobgoblins, even dragons are something that towns must either face on their own or hire someone to manage. But just like every able-bodied adult helps with the bucket brigade when there’s a fire, some menaces—ghouls, attic whisperers, and quickwoods come to mind—are such threats to the very core of rural society that even the most mercenary brutes would lend a hand or be damned by their fellows.
A dryad is desperate for help. A quickwood moved into her grove and devoured her charmed guardian. When she tried to seek new champions, the quickwood spotted her by spying upon her with her own tree. Now it spends a portion of each day trying to strangle her home oak’s roots and knock the tree over, all the while threatening her in Sylvan. Unaided, she won’t last the week.
A scarecrow gained intelligence in the magical backlash after its master was killed. It has since teamed up with a quickwood, helping to lure victims to the killer tree with its fascinating gaze, so it can vicariously enjoy their suffering.
A quickwood has crowned itself the Forest King, aided by a clan of loyal lizardfolk (whose flesh the tree finds disgusting). The local fey have hidden and fled, but the local humanoids weren’t so lucky. The few elves in the forest have been devoured, and the halflings enslaved to hunt for more victims for tree and tribe. They don’t dare resist as the lizardfolk hold their children hostage.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 2 228