Tuesday, December 10, 2013


The tree-like treants need no introduction—which is refreshing, because this far down the alphabet, we’re mostly dealing with mostly new or second-tier monsters that need a little explanation.  Thankfully, with treants we can spend more time on our favorite activity: reinvention.

Because let’s face it, the models for treants are J. R. R. Tolkien’s Ents, with all that centuries-old perspective and “Hroom”ing.  But what if treants aren’t always slow, ruminating things?  What if they proactively act to defend their forests?  What if they are expressions of the land’s will (and ire)—Great Birnam Wood come to high Dunsinane Hill, as it were?  (See also the terrible eyeless tytans of Weis & Hickman’s Elven Star.)  What if their treespeech allows them to command entirely new realms of information?  (The plant creatures in A Fire Upon the Deep come to mind.)  Just for one campaign, banish Treebeard and see what happens…

Long fostered in the urbane capital of Victoriana, Dyfed Hartsbane was determined to bring the customs of the southern court to rustic Penrhyn when he ascended to the Oaken Throne.  But after he failed to shed his blood upon the Birch Altar or offer his body to the forest (and the dryad priestess therein), the trees themselves rebelled.  Animated as treants, they now encroach upon Penrhyn Castle, tromping through crofter’s homes, smashing barns, and tearing down walls along their way.

In the Brightback it is not only the lizardfolk that go on walkabout.  Even the trees travel, herded by hardy treants the way a shepherd might sheep—a fact that makes the already mythic landscape seem as fluid as a dream.  Humanoid explorers might go to sleep in a shady glade only to wake and find the trees have vanished in the night, or camp in a barren ravine only to be shaded under verdant boughs in the morning.  But care must be taken around these treants.  While some are peaceful, all have strange religious beliefs that humanoids easily offend…and some are avid hunters, who find that humanoid blood makes their gum tree herds all the more lush.

The skyport of Verdancy is prized by captains and quartermasters for restocking—serving up strong spars, healthy citrus, fresh water, and clean air aplenty.  But the skyfarers all speak softly and carefully around Verdancy’s masters: the treants.  More terrifying than any mercane debt collector or ceratioidi crime boss, the treants are information collectors whose plants hear every rumor, who dwarf even giants as they stride through the streets, and who occasionally gather to smash voidships to flinders, without a word of explanation given.

Pathfinder Bestiary 266

Ever have an official pronunciation that flies in the face of your personal pronunciation?  I cannot get behind “tre-ant.”  For me, treant rhymes with Ent. 

There is plenty of precedent in gaming for flat-out evil treants.  “Basic” D&D’s AC9 Creature Catalogue featured the gakarak, an ancient treant who tried to kill any humanoid entering its forest that wasn’t a druid.

Also, let me once again rave about John Nephew's PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, which offered treants as player characters (along with centaurs and sprites and the owl-like hsiao greyhound-like pookas) because why not and size be damned!

I was not expecting such a big response for totenmaskes.  My sympathies go out to knightdisciple’s paladin.

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