Thursday, December 28, 2006

Location: The Great Elsemere Wood

(distance from Cathedral of St. Carlos to Shada Monastery as the crow flies 10 miles, on foot 15-20 miles)

In the Great Elsemere Wood the forest is so thick that is it almost as dark as night. No sounds echo through the underbrush; no sky is visible through the tightly-woven canopy which towers fifty feet above. Cedars and other trees are leafless except in the canopy; the dry limbs in the interim have grown craggly and with sinister corrpution. A fire could easily destroy the forest in a matter of moments, but luckily in the rarified air of the wood, there is little oxygen to keep a flame aflame.

The soil in the forest is primarily dry earth, with substantial cracking and exposed root systems gasping for sustenance, except along the river, where the soil is muddy and in parts swamp-like. Along the river, thick spanish moss dangles from the drooping limbs, which seem to bend over the water as if to take a sip.

A small maze of a trail leads through the forest. It is by and large the only path through the thick undergrowth. The path is the above-ground manifestation of the paths the underground river has taken through the wood, attempting to avoid the evils within.


Mausoleum - Once a part of Elsemere, this mausoleum is now overgrown by forest underbrush and is barely noticable.

Fitted stones and mortar poke through the exposed root system of a stand of trees, revealing a weathered structure. There is no obvious entrance.

If the characters search around enough (DC 20, with bonuses for wilderness lore), they'll discover what was once the door, now overgrown with exposed roots. After hacking some wood, they may enter the structure, discovering a single 25'x25' room, which has been overgrown (or undergrown) by some sort of plantlife, as there is significant foliage in the chamber. The plants are undead, having consumed the haunted souls of the living. They will be detailed in a separate post. The plants will attack once the characters are fully within the structure. After dispensing of the plants, the characters discover coffins lining hte outer walls. In two of the coffins, the characters find skeletons that have not been consumed. One one's finger, there is a ring of protection+2 and on another's in a rotting bag, there is a dagger+2.

If the party casts speak with dead they will hear a first hand account of the forest's consumption of the northwest edge of Elsemere. The people became so downtrodden that many succumbed to mental illnesses, which, after burial, led to an undead state. The plants sucked the undead out of the corpses and fed on the moonlight streaming in through cracks in the ceiling, becoming the monstrosities that the characters so recently encountered.

Clearing - During certain seasons and to commemorate certain holy and unholy days, the tainted Shada Monks perform their ritual acts in the only clearing in the forest. A typical encounter with the monks and clerics will be detailed in a later post.

Small Temple - Four adepts catetake this small temple to Nerull. The details can be found in a later post.

Shada Monastery - This tall, dark building built over an underground cistern is where the Shada Monks hone their nefarious craft. The monastery will be detailed in a later post.

The black squares on the map in the wood are huts of monks and adepts who have moved out of the monastery for one reason or another. Most of them just prefer living outside the overcrowded monastery, but a few wish to leave the ranks of Shada. They may be conscripted or convinced to leave the wood altogether if the party plays their encounters right.

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