17: Special Monstrous Encounter (D6: 1 Serpent of the Woods; 2 The Rogue Blood Knight; 3 Sukagra; 4: Hydra; 5: The Shambling Mound; 6: Slaad Nest). Each of these special sub-encounters reflects one of the potentially deadly denizens of the woods which can waylay weary travelers:
Serpent in the Woods: the serpent may be a spirit of the woods which takes on physical form, and it is most certainly disliked by Sukagra, who sees it as an omnivorous pest which usually takes an interest in any adventurers she seeks to ally with. The serpent is an impressive beast, a gargantuan constrictor snake that stretches for at least 100 feet. The serpent has little interest in its prey other than to devour, and it is said by some that it’s influence of the woods is motivated entirely by hunger….the woods respond by luring in likely prey.
The serpent in the woods stats are: CR 12 (8,400 XP); STR 20, DEX 20, CON 20, INT 3, WIS 14, CHA 3; HD 15D20+75, HP 232, AC 17, Speed 40 ft (30 ft. climbing and 50 ft. swimming), blindsight 30 ft, Perception +5 (passive 15), Skills: Stealth +8, Attacks include melee Bite +8 to hit, reach 15 ft one target, 6D8+30 piercing damage; melee constriction +8 attack, reach 15 ft, up to three targets in reach, deals 8D8+40 bludgeoning damage and target is grappled (escape DC 21 to escape). Until the grapple ends the targets are restrained and the snake cannot constrict other targets.
The Rogue Blood Knight: this is an elven vampire of some stature who has somehow escaped the woods and so far eluded the efforts of the Vosjin Wood to recapture him in the tree-prisons that his brethren are also captured in. When first encountered he will assess the prowess of the party....if they appear weak he will seek to befriend and prey on them to gain strength in blood, but if they appear strong he will promise a lost elven fortune from his thousand-years gone homestead for assistance in escaping the woods. If they are hostile to him he will flee if he does not have the obvious upper hand.
The Rogue Blood Knight’s Stats: use the vampire stats, but modified with either (D6): the wood elf traits (1-3), high elf traits (4-5) or eladrin traits (6). Elven vampires have a few special advantages in the Vosjin Woods: when in dense brambles or thick woods they can operate even by day for sunlight does not penetrate to the floor of the forest. When in the woods the elven vampire does not fear going anywhere for the woods are his “home” so no invite is ever needed, save for Aruman’s hut. An elven vampire also steals beauty when it attacks, and any strike from an elven vampire which deals necrotic damage also imposes disadvantage on the target until the injuries are fully healed.
Sukagra: the lamia queen of the woods has been here a long time, cast in exile and serving as a sort of caretaker of the woods, she both respects and dislikes the Stag and the Rook, while looking for ways to either drive out or slay the other denizens which have seen fit to take up refuge in the wilderness. Sukagra may be likely to befriend adventurers in need if she sees a way she can manipulate them into causing trouble for Aruman, Caldare or the Rook (among others). She will also use them to slay the rogue blood knight or other “prisoners” who should not be free. She is able to polymorph at will as a bonus action between the form of a woman of vaguely human or elven features and a lamia at will; she usually approaches those she seeks to ally with in human form.
Sukagra’s Stats: Sukagra is a lamia but with a serpentine torso instead of a lion. She replaces the “claw” attack with a tail-whip which deals bludgeoning damage of the same amount as the normal claws, and also adds a constriction attack as per the giant constrictor snake stats (but with +5 to hit). She, like many of the creatures bound to the wood, will resurrect 1D6 days later if slain, with vengeance strong on her mind. She has the ability to dominate any ordinary monsters or animals in the woods with sheer willpower, and such creatures, unless under the sway of another denizen, will obey her unquestioningly.
The Hydra: The hydra of the woods is a terrifying beast, but it is locked safely away in a tree in the woods (see #19). However, when it was trapped a thousand years ago the tree of the hydra grew strong and bore hideous poison fruit, which when ripened dropped to the ground and birthed more lesser hydras. These hydras wander the woods, hunting prey and one another with a ferocity unrivalled. Only the serpent in the woods keeps their population down.
When encountering the hydras of the Vosjin Wood roll 1D6 to determine how many there are. A solitary hydra is a loner looking for easy prey, but a pack of hydras are a family working together with cunning efficiency.
The Shambling Mound: there are immense, ancient forest beasts in the woods. These shambling mounds may have some unearthly origin, or they may be a manifestation of the wood….none can say for sure. When encountering shambling mounds, there are typically 1D8 of them moving in hunting packs. They will strangle those they encounter to feed themselves and the wood. There is a 10% chance that one of the eldest of these beasts may appear; such elders have maximum hit points (208 HP) and a strength of 22 (+6 instead of +4; add +2 to all base damage attacks).
Slaadi Nest: certain corners of the Vosjin Wood grow so dark and the roots dig so deep that they accidentally break into the dominion of limbo, from which terrible beasts such as the slaadi dwell. These slaadi find crude islands of growth emerging in limbo and make dark nests out of the roots, slime and water which pools in these regions. Occasionally a slaad will burrow up, and discovered the Vosjin Wood. Especially enterprising slaadi have realized this is a portal into the mortal realm, though not quite….the woods seem determined to capture and lock the slaadi away just as the woods have done to the blood knights and demons of old. Any slaad which enters the woods must make a DC 15 constitution check once per hour or find itself polymorphed/trapped in the form of a tree, permanently.
Finding a slaadi nest means coming across another dense copse of trees, some of which have vaguely humanoid batrachian features (DC 22 intelligence/arcana check to notice that the trees are reminiscent of slaadi). At the center of the copse is always an especially large and ancient tree, with monstrous features, and a deep hole in the wood of its trunk which leads down to the island-gate of limbo. This island will almost always contain a deep pool into which the roots dip, containing 10D10 slaad tadpoles, as well as 2D6 red slaad protectors. There is a 50% chance 1D4 blue slad and 1D3 green slaad are present in the area, and a 20% chance of a single gray slaad with visions of grandeur. Slaughtering or disrupting the birthing island in limbo may (10% chance) draw the ire of a death slaad which will either send more minions or even come on its own to hunt down those who kill its offspring and servitors.
Next: encounters 18-20, at last!