Sometimes things just naturally converge. I was considering what happens in the woods of the Woodland, painting idly with watercolour, and eventually I figured that my results could be images of how the denizens perceive the dangerous woods. So here are three encounters ready-to-use for your campaign.
The Demon-Bird of the Old Thicket
You would have to be a madcat to brave the Old Thicket. Speaking the name of the place can make the joyous sounds of a tavern fall into dead silence. Few return, and those who do speak of being set upon by a bird so large, so grotesque that some say it is more akin to a bear than an owl.
The Demon-Bird is actually an old, great horned owl vagabond named Janus, who in their youth forsook the company of other denizens, and now use darkness and shock to prey upon those who venture into the woods. Now that the woodland is seeing war once more, they are even setting their blood-red eyes on those who travel the roads. They insist on everyone being given proper funeral rites, essentially turning the Old Thicket into a massive graveyard.
Drive: To survive at all costs
Harm: 3 injury, 3 exhaustion, 2 wear, 3 morale
Weapons: Razor-sharp beak and claws, and blades for every contingency: 2-injury, 1-exhaustion.
- Attack the rearguard without warning
- Grab the lightest and take flight
- Ask for proper funeral rites
The Ancient Dragon-Shrine
Yes, I’ve seen it, it’s out there, way above the shrine. Some say it’s the skull of an ancient dragon, others that it is actually an old structure made out of bone. Just looks like a big lizard skull to me. It’s probably a gathering place for those Lizard cultists we hear so much about.
- A huge skull looming far above, fire flickering in its eye-sockets
- A simple shrine to the spirits of nature, where offerings haven’t been left for decades
- Faint whispers in the dark
- Rickety rope-ladders, making their way to platforms above
- Move the action up or down, in or out of the trees
- Offer a chance to acquire contraband
- Present a hindrance to the Vagabonds’ traversal
When you take flight to reach the skull, roll with cunning. On a 10+, you reach it without issue, on a 7-9 choose one:
- You reach the skull
- You do not alert the guards of your presence
- You do not mark exhaustion
On a 6- you are caught in the nets, being kidnapped by the Corvid Conspiracy!
Corvid band of smugglers (parentheses are when fought as a group of ~10)
These members of the Corvid Conspiracy have been using the old skull as a signalling beacon and hideout. They are not trained for combat, and will resolve conflicts how they know best: With trickery, traps, and negotiating after taking someone hostage.
Drive: To enrich the Corvid Conspiracy
Harm tracks: 1 (3) Injury, 2 (4) exhaustion, 2 (4) wear, 1 (3) morale
Harm inflicted: 1 (2) injury, 1 (2) exhaustion
Equipment: The smugglers use a range of tricky weaponry, like whips, caltrops, wires, smokebombs, etc.
Note: While this writeup uses the Corvid Conspiracy faction, they can be easily replaced with any old band of smugglers if you do not use the Conspiracy in your campaign.
The Retchit Bog
You wanna get quickly to Opensky Haven? Well, the only fast way is through the woods. Of course you could go the long ‘safe’ route by the canyon, but if you’re in a hurry, you’ll need to go through the Retchit Bog. I’d say, just let Opensky be. Not worth the trouble. If you must, remember to bring some cloth to cover your muzzles.
The Retchit bog used to be a clearing, located right next to a beautiful lake, with its own paths connecting it to the rest of the woodland. Noone knows exactly what happened, but the lake turned into a bog so rancid and fetid that it spread disease and death throughout the clearing, with the few survivors abandoning the place entirely.
Special rules: Wherever you place the Retchit Bog, whenever the Vagabonds travel quickly through those woods, they must pass through this location.
- Ancient, decaying structures
- Bugs aggressively biting, crawling through fur and feather alike
- Noxius fumes, expelled from the ground itself
- Sudden explosions as gas ignites
When the Vagabonds travel through the Retchid Bog, on a 7-9 result, instead each Vagabond individually chooses whether to mark exhaustion – each Vagabond who doesn’t rolls with Luck.
On a 10+, they are not infected. On a 7-9, the GM chooses one after their first night’s rest in the next clearing.
- The illness has already done its damage – Mark 2 Injury
- The illness is contagious and potentially lethal to sickly denizens
- The illness leaves you with a constant headache – Mark 2 Exhaustion
On a 6-, it’s all 3.