While the majority of the body of water known as The Pond is wide open shallow marsh, the southwestern portion is home to a flooded forest. While much of this forest is home to simple wildlife, anybody venturing into the miles of dense trees must contend with giant flytraps, giant dragonflies, and of course, a family of freshwater merrow.
Welcome back to Groundbreaking. Randal here, ready to take a look at region that has all the makings of a remote wilderness, and yet is within striking distance of a major road and settlement.
GM Note. If you have been following along at home, you may notice some similarities between The Flooded Forest the swamp of The Rainforest Valley. While their basic design is the same at first pass (forest with water and general swampiness), the key difference between the two is tone. This forest is intended to have a backwater southern/floridian feel to it while the valley swamp is intended to invoke fear and unease with the sounds and fog and constant shifting of view and perspective.
The Flooded Forest. This forest is essentially all that remains of a forest that once existed in this part of the region prior to the cataclysm that reshaped the caldera. For whatever reason, the trees here were not flattened or destroyed when the rest of the area became blasted plains. As the waters began to flow southward, The Pond began to pool and flood the forest as it tried to find its way through the southern mountain range. This caused over 75% of the forest that remained to become permanently flooded at an average depth of 5-10 feet. On the western side, the land eventually rises so that there are a couple of miles of dry forest between the water and the plains. Just as The Pond entices farmers to look for possible hybrid crops that has floated down river, The Flooded Forest promises herbalists all manner of possibilities. Travel into the forest is almost always done by shallow boat, canoe, or kayak (Easy Check) in mostly the northeastern regions, and never at night (Medium Check). While dawn and dusk are known to be great times to harvest flowers, plants, and fungi (Easy Check; once per day), it is also when the giant dragonflies are most active, which in turn is when the giant flytraps are most active.
The Denizens. For the most part, the waters are inhabited by standard freshwater lake and marsh creatures, mostly small mammals, small and medium fish, and the occasional reptile (Easy Encounter; once per week). The major exceptions to this are the giant dragonflies and giant flytraps. For as yet unknown reasons, as the forest isn’t quite their normal and the water isn’t quite the right temp, giant dragonflies inhabit the forest. Despite multiple bounties to find (5 Hard Checks; once per day, critical failure resets count) and destroy their nest (3 Easy Encounters and 2 Medium Encounters) , none have yet to find it and complete the task. Luckily, and also for unknown reasons, the forest is home to a special type of giant flytrap. This offshoot appears to be a large lily pad, has a swim speed in addition to a land speed, and has an appetite for giant dragonflies (and giant flies too) that seems to help keep the insects from breeding fast enough to become a problem for nearby humanoids.
The Fish Monster. Those that have travelled furthest into the forest all return with the same advice: “Don’t”. Often the advice is usually prefaced with “Run!” (or “Paddle/Swim!”) until they are clear of the tree line before they are calm enough to explain what they witnessed. On multiple occasions, a group was chased out by what they called “a giant fish monster” that was “as big as a dragon”. One group was forced to leave an individual behind that fell in the water when another was maimed and the creature kept attacking the boat. He still has the scars to prove how big the bite of the “dragon fish monster” is. While descriptions of the monster vary with every telling, the only details that seem consistent are actually the strangest part of the story. Each group swears up and down they heard banjo music while a witch cackled along with the tune.
The Guardians. Those that account for all the tales and prepare accordingly (Medium Check) stand a reasonable chance of finding this notorious monster (2 Hard Checks; once per day). Success leads them to a Giant Gar, and once they encounter the Giant Gar, they are immediately set upon by its masters, a family of freshwater merrow. Generally interested only in running off trespassers, they only fight till first blood before retreating with a warning, but even that little skirmish is intense (Hard Encounter). It is possible to reason with them instead of fighting (Incredible Check), but they are not easily won over without some sort of gift or offering (Hard Check). Without some great danger to give them a reason to join forces, befriending them takes time (5 Hard Checks; once per week, critical fail cancels a previous success). Finding their home is nigh impossible (Ultimate Check) without first surviving an encounter with them and following them (Hard Check). The family is led by an old matriarch that possesses the powers of a witch. Her sons are as different as can be, one hulking brute carrying a massive axe while the other one more refined in appearance with a customized banjo slung over his shoulder. Additionally, at her beck and call, is a giant gar that follows the commands of any of the family. What the family is hiding, and why they defend it with their lives is a mystery to all that have been brave enough to try to find out and strong (or savvy) enough to survive such attempts. Anybody clever enough to ask what the druids think might be confused by their lack of detail and interest in changing the subject (Hard Check).
Encounters and Checks
In the spirit of 2e (Playtest) compatibility, I have provided Encounters and Checks that have the following ratings: Easy, Medium, Hard, Incredible, Ultimate.
Checks are of a skill that the GM decides is appropriate. Encounters really implies a series of activities or encounters, but a single encounter can suffice for a short side quest. If not using DCs scaled to the party, then assume an average party level of 5. For first edition, use the following numbers:
Easy – Check DC 10, APL -1
Medium – Check DC 15, APL +0
Hard – Check DC 20, APL +1
Incredible – Check DC 25, APL +2
Ultimate – Check DC 30, APL +3
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