Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Grove of Bones

This location was created when a mad druid took up the necromantic elements of sorcery. First he consecrated the area with an evil bent, then he turned an entire grove of fine alder trees into bones, using the limbs to raise up an army of skeletons and bone golems.

Throughout the grove are creeping vines, represented in dark green on the map. There is a 1 in 6 chance that each vine will attack as the party passes within the 10' reach of the vines. Once one vine attacks, every vine will attack a character that steps within 10' of the vine. This automatic attack includes vines within 10' of a character when the first vine attacks.

Each white circle on the map represents the trunk of bone. Those lying sideways are horizontal with the exception of two that are leaning against other bones. The grey areas are stone, the brown wood or road. Each number on the map corresponds to a location or set of locations described below.

1 The Approach
The wind grows still and the squawk of avians silent as you approach this fork in the road. The primary direction continues before you where it is blocked by a felled, forty-foot trunk. A smaller path heads into a grove of birch trees, their trunks covered in a white bark. The area smells of charnel.
If the characters study the trees more carefully, for instance walking up to one and trying to harvest its bark for parchment, they will notice that the trunks are not normal. A DC 15 Knowledge Nature check will reveal that they have a sturdy-yet-porous feel not unlike bone.

2 Felled Trunk
A tree with a 7' diameter trunk blocks the road before you. Spider webs cling to the underside of the rounded trunk, running to the ground in threads woven so thick that you cannot see the ground.
If characters try to scale the bone tree, they must make a DC 20 Jump check to reach the upper side of the bone, and then a DC 20 Climb check to continue to scale the bone. if they fail, they will find the trunk too smooth to climb, and will slip off. Those who succeed can walk along the trunk at half speed with a DC20 Balance check.

Characters who linger at the base of the trunk for more than 3 turns will be attacked by a group of 4 dire spiders, who climb up through the webbing. Characters within 15' of the trunk when the combat begins have a 1 in 6 chance of standing in some webbing, requiring them to make a DC 20
Reflex save or be stuck as if under the effect of a web spell as the fight breaks out.

After the combat, if the characters search under the trunk, they will find the crushed remains of a skeletal humanoid, his leather backpack intact. The backpack contains 2 cure medium wounds potions, a potion of momentary clarity, and a scroll of freedom of movement. On the skeleton's feet is one boot of speed. The other is on one of the skeletons that the party faces with the necromancer. If they check carefully, they will notice the match on the skeleton.

3 Summoning Circle
Chips of wood and bone dot the ground around this 15' circle surrounded by four stone obelisks. The obelisks have wooden adornments that serve as appendages emanating from the stone bases. The circle is rimmed with alternating white and black stones the size of a human fist. The weeds are kept at bay just outside the rocks; inside the circle there is no grass nor weed.
The chips are fairly long and narrow, and do not appear to have been made with axes or other normal blades, as the edges are serrated.

The obelisks are abstract representations of four woodland animals: bear, boar, owl, and wolf. The wooden portions provide the representations, as the stone portions are the same on each obelisk, constituting the base and the trunk. These obelisks belong to the long-dead druids who once cared for this grove.

This is where the necromancer summons creatures, growing his undead army.

4 Pile of Bones
A neatly-arranged pile of assorted bones lies in the center of the dirt path in the center of the grove.
Characters who linger at the base of the pile for more than 3 turns will be attacked by 2 bone golems, who, when killed, will rattle their bones, alerting the necromancer. If the time is right, he will attack the party. This is up to the DM. In most cases, he will attack when the party reaches location 6.

The bones are of assorted lengths, from 3" wide and 2' long to 3' wide and 10' long, and appear to have been shaped into bones. Perhaps they are true bones, perhaps they are trees-turned-bones.

5 Fitted-Stone Slab
This slab of fitted stones is stained a deep rust color.
The rust color is from blood used in sacrifice to aid the necromancer in his foul deeds.

The workmanship suggests that this slab was built some hundred or more years ago. If the characters look carefully, they will notice that the stones are arranged in the form of an owl mized with a bear. This grove once was the home of a great owlbear clan, the remains of which have been disturbed by the necromancer. This clan was befriended by the druids who then took over mantenance of the grove before their untimely end at the treacherous hands of the necromancer.

6 Stone Hut
When the party nears the hut, read or paraphrase the following:
A mound of vines obscures something large and grey underneath.
If the party clears off some of the creeping vines (by killing or otherwise dispatching with them), read aloud the following:
A well-mortared wall of a 10'x15' fitted-stone structure shows signs of age, yet is impressively intact in the face of the strong vines that once covered it.

Inside the stone hut, in among rusted rakes and shovels with rotted handles, the party will find various necromantic items, including a scroll of transmute wood to bone, a scroll of protection from good, and a collection of notes on the anatomy of human bones and trees, with strange connections drawn between them.

Once the party loots the hut, the necromancer will appear outside and begin summoning assistance. When they fight him, he will by flanked by 12 medium skeletons, 2 large skeletons, 3 bone golems, and 2 animated owlbear skeletons, all of which quickly rush up to engage the party in melee, while he casts spells from afar. In their rush into the melee, the owlbears knock over some of the remaining bone trees, creating dynamic terrain hazards. The bone golems and large skeletons will even lift some of the bones out of the pile at location 4 to use as large bone clubs against the characters.

7 Twin felled bones
Two twin bones have been knocked over here, forming a small space between which run thickly-woven spider webs.
In among the bones, the party discovers the remains of an old graveyard, with headstones written in a strange and ancient language. This is where the necromancer raised his skeletons out of their ancient graves.

8 Angled bone
A large bone leans against a standing one, providing a perilously balanced cover.
This bone of course, could at any moment be knocked loose, for instance in combat or if a character attempts to walk upon it, requiring anyone above or below it to make a DC 20 Reflex save to avoid taking 2d8 damage from the falling bone.

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