If you haven’t yet read the journal to go with this map, head over there and take a look. As promised, I’ve also provided stat blocks for the Hangman’s Tree and the Javelin of Leaves. Jump straight to the bottom of the page if you want them.
Since this was the first game, and (more than) half the session was taken up with character development, I built a very simple Five Room Dungeon for the group. This game came together very last-minute, so when I built this level of the temple I had no idea what the ‘big boss’ would be, what was causing the blights, or really anything else. I just knew that I needed to introduce the group to as many elements of combat as possible. That meant grappling, saving throws, and skill use.
With that in mind I filled the dungeon with animated plants that would try to grab hold of the party – forcing Dexterity saving throws to avoid – and then grapple them. I also decided that the old stonework was fragile, and that any explosions etc. would cause collapses. At that point, I had no idea that Ha’an was going to be so liberal with his use of thunderclap.
It’s very linear, because this is basically a tutorial level.
[Temple of Leaves – DM’s Map]
[Large map with grid]
You almost don’t see the Temple at first. Crumbling stone lies almost completely buried by thick undergrowth. Vines and creepers wrap the rock and pierce it, and you aren’t entirely sure whether the structure would have crumbled completely by now had it not been reclaimed by the forest.
The wooden doors are long rotted away. Through the opening in the undergrowth you see a wide circle of earth surrounded by those crumbling stone walls. Ten feet high where they have not fallen away. Inside a few trees stand alone in the clearing, old and tall and mighty-looking, their branches and leaves threatening to block out the sky.
A small pool sits in the center of the clearing, and on the other side you spy a narrow opening blocked by a rusted iron portcullis.
A brown bear has moved in to this entrance chamber. It is currently resting in its den, out of sight beyond one of the trees. A DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals claw marks in the trunks of the trees and evidence of broken branches higher up. A successful DC 10 Wisdom (Survival) check will tell players that this is evidence of a bear living here.
The bear will attack if the players become too noisy, either by talking loudly or attempting to open the gate.
The portcullis in the Temple Entrance is heavy but can be lifted with a DC 20 Strength (Athletics) check. Other players can assist.
The passage has a stone roof which is broken by creepers and vines that hang down. It is roughly 8 feet high.
The end of the passage is blocked by yet another portcullis. This one is so heavily choked by vines and branches that have pushed through the walls that it cannot be simply lifted. This should slow the players down and force them to think of a solution. Anything reasonable should be allowed.
As the vines part it seems like this is the first time this chamber has seen daylight – or fresh air – for quite some time. Inside the walls curve gently out as the room widens to roughly 20 feet wide, before narrowing again to meet another portcullis at the opposite side of the room.
The air is stale in here. Dust floats in the shafts of sunlight that pierce through tiny gaps in the roof. The stone of the walls is almost completely hidden by thick vines and mosses. You wonder how so much greenery has been able to grow in a room so devoid of light.
As the players reach the halfway point of the room, 4 twig blights rise up to attack them.
Each round the dust seems to be gathering and thickening in the air. After 6 rounds, players will begin to realize that the vines in the room are releasing some kind of toxic spores. After the 4th round, creatures in the room must succeed on a DC 13 Contitution saving throw or take 1d4 poison damage, and must repeat the saving throw at the start of each of its turns. Each successive failed save results in 1d4 damage. After three successful saves, the poison ends.
This portcullis can be lifted like the first one.
The passage opens up into a wide chamber that feels more like a natural hollow in the earth that has been walled around rather than something constructed by men from scratch. Above you the ceiling curves high overhead, panes of dusty, overgrown glass hanging 40 feet in the air. A gate across the room reveals stairs that head down, deeper into the temple, but they hold your attention for only a moment.
In front of you, dominating the center of the chamber, is a thick old tree that stretches up to the glass above it. In places its branches have broken through to the outside.
The tree’s roots and thick and gnarled, breaking the surface of the earth below it to push up between tangles of shrubs and vines. And there, nestled at the base of the tree, lies the item you seek; a long, slim wooden javelin, ready for the taking.
The players will fight the Hangman’s Tree here.
[A quick disclaimer before the stat block for the Hangman’s Tree: This was the first 5e monster I created. It isn’t great. Go read The Angry GM’s series on monster building – which I hadn’t read before I built this – and you’ll be equipped to create much better monsters than this.]
[click to embiggen]
As for the Javelin of Leaves, it’s just a reskinned Javelin of Lightning.
Javelin of Leaves
Weapon (javelin), uncommon
Javelin: 1d6 piercing, 2lb., Thrown (range 30/120)
This javelin is a magic weapon. It is surprisingly light, weighing roughly half the weight you would expect. It is adorned with symbols of nature; leaves, vines, feathers etc.
When you hurl the javelin and speak its command word, it transforms into a flurry of sharp leaves and twigs, forming a line 5 feet wide that extends out from you to a target within 120 feet. Each creature in the line excluding you and the target must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 4d6 piercing damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. The flurry turns back into a javelin when it reaches the target. Make a ranged weapon attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes damage from the javelin plus 4d6 piercing damage.
This ability can’t be used again until next dawn. In the meantime, the javelin can still be used as a magic weapon.