9: The Elves of the Woods. The Saganyir elves are ancient survivors of the Saric empire who migrated to the woods as they followed their venerable leader, Vask’Tinorin. A young elf when the Empire of Sar fell, Vask’Tinorin is believed to have witnessed the destruction of the Saric army and the blood knights, and experienced a profound religious conversion as a result. As he grew up, Vask’Tinorin gathered followers, who turned into a tribe of elves that renounced their old lives and migrated to the Vosjin Wood, both to remember the folly of their lost kin and to remain close to the tethers of the Outworld. Some believe that the legends of the Enkanneth goddess Abia being the true creator of elvenkind may have started with Vask’Tinorin’s conversion of faith to the Enkanneth pantheon.
There are three possible encounters with Saganyir as follows:
1-2 The Grove of the Saganyir-this grove is the central hub of trade and social gathering among the Saganyir tribes. There are perhaps a dozen tribal groups in the woods, maybe more that wander the dark paths to the Outworld and even Arborea beyond. In the grove are roughly 6D10 able warriors and twice that many women, children, elderly and other noncombatants. The grove includes a sacred shrine to the Enkanneth and Abia specifically, as well as a pool of healing waters within used for medicinal purposes. The grove, despite being a center of occupation, is so natural in design that it would take a DC 12 Perception check for most non-wood elves to notice it’s actually inhabited at first. The elves will disappear quickly in response to an unknown party, and return to fight if the adventurers appear threatening. They will engage in trade if they have reason to trust the heroes.
3-5 A hunting party-this is a war party of 3D6 saganyir who are rangers of levels 1D4 each, and 1D3 ranger leaders who are level 2D4+2 each. There is a 25% chance they are stalking lost wanderers (roll on encounter table 3 to see who) otherwise they are hunting game.
6 a party led by Vask’Tinorin-as 3-5 above but Vask’Tinorin is with them. Though he is over 1,000 years old Vask looks of middle years by human standards. He is a Druid (level 15)/Ranger (level 5) of great skill, and is lawful good.
10: The Putrid Cistern. This region of the wood is dense with brambles and thicket, gnarled trees that look too horribly like humanoid forms stretched in agony and torture, and the sounds of the woods are of ominous and disturbing things which should not be; it is all difficult terrain. The cistern itself bubbles and erupts with curious noises like the sound of bubbling and venting gasses below, as if the deep hole in the earth is a portal to the Abyssal realms.
Anyone studying the putrid cistern will have a chance of attracting the attention of one of the tentacle horrors that dwells in the watery depths below (Fifth Edition Foes (FEF) page 225). Just lingering around the pit gives them a 25% chance per minute of appearing to see who has wandered into their dominion.
The putrid cistern is a dangerous environment, and every ten minutes in the area there is a 20% chance of attracting the attention of one of the following:
1-4 a shambling mound (1D3 appear, acting curious, but there’s a 25% chance of 2D4 shambling mounds approaching, even more curious)
5-6 a tendriculous (see FEF pg. 224)
7-9 a horde of vegepygmies charge out (1D6 per character, or a horde of 10D10; FEF pg. 239)
10-11 Gaz Mudare appears from the Arboreal Unseelie Realm of the Bramblewood (See below) to see why the adventurers are interested in the cistern.
12 A feral green dragon appears, possibly emerging from the cistern (D6: 1-4 young, 5-6 adult)
Gaz Mudare is an elven eladrin of the unseelie court and a lone blood knight survivor of old. He is actually an eladrin vampire, and an ancient descendant of the eldest Saric family bloodlines from time immemorial. His interest in the Putrid Cistern is based on its importance to him: when the ancient battle took place, the cistern was the point he was located at. When the Enkanneth spell erupted, Gaz had only seconds to act and called upon ancient planar magic to save himself, ripping a hole from this plane into the Unseelie kingdom of the Bramble in Arborea. He escaped in this manner, the sole survivor of the entire blood knight army to get away.
Gaz is a very high level entity, and for practical purposes he is a lawful evil level 20 eldritch knight eladrin with all of the vampire traits. His soul is bound to the Bramblewood in the Arboreal Realm and he cannot truly be slain unless that dark heart in the wood is also staked and burned. That said, it’s bound not too far away from the planar gate in the bottom of the cistern which opens into Arborea. Such a trek would be a daring adventure in its own right.
11: The Dragon Caldare. Eldest of the green dragons, Caldare is a venerable beast (ancient green dragon) and there is a 5% chance the adventurers have stumbled across his lair in the woods: a knotted mass of trees that have grown in on one another to form a dense thicket which is impassable, and forms a great cavernous hollow within which Caldare resides. This is Caldare’s lair….but all of the Vosjin Wood is considered his lair, so no matter where he is Caldare may take lair actions.
Caldare is evil and manipulative, and unless the adventurers give him an excuse to slay and devour them he will seek to use them to cause strife for his rivals in the woods. He is keen to see Sukagra destroyed, Aruman run out, or even the White Stag and The Black Rook slain if possible. He knows the latter two will simply reform over time, but he delights in causing any problems he can for those he must share the woods with.
Caldare’s wood-spun nest is filled with treasure of the ages, including lost tomes, ancient artifacts, countless gold coins and a statue of the enigmatic lady Rehana, the first of the ancient Vumaskan queens. The statue contains a vestige of Rehana’s animating force and can provide cryptic messages about the past and future to those who speak to it. The statue is propped up next to a crude altar to the god Hax Nagor, whom Caldare believes he is the avatar and servant of.
12: A Hidden Temple to Hox Nagor. The demiurge of serpents and ophidians, Hox Nagor’s temple resides deep in the woods and is a little-known secret to those who are serpentine in nature. The temple is sometimes guarded by the Serpent of the Woods (see entry 17), though as often as not it roams freely and ignores its duties as temple guardian. More frequently it is protected by ophidians such as the Yuan-ti and lizard men with dominant serpentine features who are dedicated to Hox Nagor.
The temple is difficult to spot if not specifically searching for, covered in thick vines and the overgrowth of the trees, it’s moss-covered walls that were once comprised of jadeite and alabaster marble are almost totally obscured (DC 15 Perception check to even notice). The entrance looms open like a dark cave, easily mistaken for another dark path in the thick woods.
Inside the main temple is a vast cathedral-like chamber in which the ominous statue of Hox Nagor resides, a looming figure of serpentine stone with serpents emerging from where its arms and legs are located, and a long trio of serpentine heads from its neck. The statue itself is a stone golem and will animate if any vandalism or theft takes place in the temple.
At any given time there will be guardians and visitors within the temple. The complex has a permanent presence of temple priests in the form of 4D6 pureblood yuan-ti, along with 2D4 yuan-ti malisons and 2D3 yuan-ti abominations. There are usually 4D8 lizard men serving as guards, servants and pilgrims as well. The temple usually keeps 2D6 giant lizards as guardians on the grounds, unless the Serpent of the Woods is present, in which case the lizards are hiding in their pens.
There is a 25% chance that one of the following may be visiting to honor the demiurge:
1-4 A gorgon named Perisphene with her retinue of 2D8 blind grimlocks seeks to gain oracular aid from the temple
5-8 Caldare, who reveres Hox Nagor and believes he is the demiurge’s avatar of doom
9-10 A contingent of Skelzis from the planes (1D6) with 4d4 weredactyl servants are honoring the demiurge with gifts in exchange for insight on how to destroy their enemies
11-12 a lich named Vasufar who was once a serpent man of pureblood origin has come to view the temple. He moves freely through the woods with a tymardiae guide whom he has bewitched.
Next: Encounters 13-16