I’ve decided to work on encounters here and there, and share them with you all. This encounter was built to challenge four level one players in D&D 5e, but can easily be modified to do more or work in other systems. I guess you can celebrate Halloween a little early with this treat!
Ahead, the woods seem to clear. Trees sparsely populate an area around a single dead tree, a blue light reflects along the edges of the dead tree. As you study it closer, you realize a calm reflecting pool surrounds the tree, causing the glow. Several small stepping stones lead across the water.
The players have stumbled upon a Dryad’s domain. This dead tree is her long passed child. She blames the greed of men for his death. In the decades since his death, she has gone insane. She treats the tree as if he were still her living child. By the time the players arrive, she is aware of them and has hidden herself among the trees here. They are spread out sixty feet at the farthest.
There were other trees here a long while back, but some rather greedy “lumberjacks” logged them for their rare quality, and mistook the youngling dryad as one such tree. She protects the grove with her life. Her anger fills the place.
As the players draw near, they feel a sense of unease, dread, and anger. The Dryad is the same as the one on page 121 of the D&D 5e Monster Manual. She attempts to cause fey charm as soon as an adventurer is close enough to her. She also whispers strange things, only understood by beasts and plants. If the party has any animals with them, she will prioritize casting fey charm on them. A DC12 perception allows the party to hear the strange words, but not understand them.
Her end goal is to entangle the adventurers and trap them in the waters, which present the other part of the challenge. The waters steal life from what they touch. She believes that by trapping humans, or something close enough to them, she can drain their life and bring her little one back. The waters are only 3 feet deep, ending your turn in them means taking 1d2 constitution damage. Drinking the water results in a DC 15 Con save or fall unconscious as it burns through your system and begin dying.
She uses Tree Stride whenever possible, wanting to remain out of the middle of things, and force the players to cross close to the water, where she tries to entangle, then get in close to push them in.
That’s really about it for this little encounter. It’s meant to be easily plugged into your campaign or adventure night. Some things to be ready for, players may learn what the water does, and push her in, if that is the case, she will fight to bring them in with her. She is prepared ahead of time, well ahead of time, using her speak with beasts and plants, she’s aware of anyone within a mile of the place.
Oh! And I’ve made a map for your use! Feel free to grid however you need, remember that the trees are, at most, 60 feet apart.
Till next time,