Forests stretch across the landscape, marking where man has not yet trodden or tamed. The trees tower over uneven ground, streams, and stones, their branches forming a thick canopy to hide the world below. And in this world that is so familiar, yet so alien, is an ecosystem of strange creatures. For every plain wolf, there is a colony of fungi that have grown to the point of sentience; for every bear, a tree awakened of its own accord. Many of these are simply curiosities. Many more are dangerously territorial towards those straying into their wooded homes.
Some of the forest’s oldest strains of fungi have developed unique characteristics. Like shriekers and violet fungi, they have evolved different ways of reacting to, snaring, and even feeding on wildlife to spread and sustain themselves. These are especially dangerous for visitors who cannot recognize the fungi amidst other forest growth.
A patch of dull green moss that bulges in its center. Protruding from its surface is a series of small, thin thorn quills that hang downward and glisten with some sort of moisture.
Each patch of thorn moss is a single creature that balloons out by rapidly producing gas beneath it. When threatened, the moss’s surface contracts. This uses the escaping pressure of the gas to fire its quills outwards. These quills, as with many of the forest’s flora and fauna, are coated in a weak paralytic poison that is most effective against small animals but can still serve to sicken and deter larger creatures.
The cap of the fungus is formed of a hardened, shell-like substance that curls over to protect the stalk. It is covered in holes of different sizes. Long strands of the fungus appear to grow from several of the holes, branching out over multiple feet and slick with a viscous substance.
The tendril fungus extends a proboscis-like web of tendrils that are coated in a natural glue as a means of snaring prey. These then reel in anything it catches, allowing the plant to slowly digest them. The tendrils are most often hidden across the ground but can be quickly whipped out if the fungus comes under attack.
Remember your stealth rules! If the characters don’t recognize the tendril fungus through its False Appearance, it is likely to have advantage on its first tendril attack against them. This is a good way to use the tendrils hidden along the ground as an ambush.
A mottled cluster of growths comprises the fungus’s dull grey surface. They are dotted with small openings, the rims of which are visibly coated in a dusting of spores.
The hushroom is the polar opposite of the shrieker. When the fungus senses danger, it releases a spray of spores with the curious ability to absorb and completely muffle sound. The spores linger in the air and are especially effective against creatures that happen to breathe them in. This is believed to be used in synergy with forest beasts by isolating and deafening prey, the remains of which then feed the hushroom.
Map and Asset Downloads
All of these unique creatures deserve their own battle maps, whether they be in a forest, jungle, or the deep underground. You could even use them in our own Jungle Encounters! Have a look at our recent Forest Fungi Map Assets, as well as other maps and asset packs, below…
Amidst the dangerous plants are, of course, even more dangerous monsters. Some of these creatures use the fallen and discarded refuse of the forest to expand, protect, or camouflage themselves. Others are born from that very refuse, as colonies of fungus and other plants manifest in living beings.
Heavy footsteps crush the forest floor beneath a humanoid form of plant life and other debris. The creature’s body is a hulking amalgamation of wood and vines, all riddled with mold and faded tones of rot. Mushrooms cover most of its torso. Four thick arms hang from its side, two of which lag behind, dragging along the trunk of a fallen tree that cuts a deep groove into the earth.
A four-armed cousin to the shambling mound, the rot colossus is a larger and more aggressive threat. Its body consists of even less friendly pieces of the forest, including the spores of poisonous mushrooms and thick, wooden armor plates. Its additional limbs also facilitate the use of a fallen log as a brutal makeshift weapon.
A mass of rotting wood, leaves, and bones gathers in a moving form, bound together by the muck of natural decay. It rises in a lump that sluggishly slides forward, tendril limbs of mold extending both to pull itself and to gather more detritus into its body.
The mulch ooze is a pure manifestation of nature’s decay, made up of everything that falls to the forest floor. This rot has developed into a necromantic will. It feeds indiscriminately on anything it catches or passes over, rapidly breaking its prey down to expand its own form. When it is not moving, the ooze is indistinguishable from the forest floor or a puddle of mulch. Its feeding also produces a gas within the ooze that can prove extremely flammable should it escape.
The mulch ooze is built from a gelatinous cube. Its engulf is changed to more closely resemble the shambling mound and to digest characters less instantaneously. To balance this, the ooze has a small amount of regeneration derived from feeding on engulfed targets.
It can also explode.
Swarm of Spores
A cloud of yellow-green dust hangs in the air. Most of it seems to be fine particulates, but you can make out a number of larger spores. These spores begin to move, seeming to follow each other’s lead and carrying the rest of the cloud with them.
Certain plants in the forest are able to give off large spores that are, in fact, plants themselves. These float through the air giving off smaller spores, creating a cloud around them and cooperating by sharing direction signals. This very basic hivemind allows the cloud to sense other animals approaching. They then slowly feed on their prey in order to create more spores.
The enormous log rustles as something shifts inside. The uprooted base of the tree opens outwards, roots parting into chaotic horns on the emerging face of a slimy, grey creature. Two eyes stretch out on stalks. On the log’s sides, eight sections of bark open, and short, thick legs slide out, lifting the creature off the ground. It makes no roar or sound as a toothless mouth opens slightly and globs of a viscous goo drip out.
The slog, named for its appearance and chosen camouflage, is one of the forest’s largest and strangest beasts. The otherwise vulnerable creature uses fallen logs as a means of camouflage and defense. Many people mistakenly assume this to mean that the slog is as slow as its tiny cousins, which is often fatally incorrect. The slog prefers to ambush but is not incapable of fighting, especially given its ability to use the slime that fills and covers its body.
A relatively unassuming man with short hair that is neat but overgrown from its last cut. He wears presentable but comfortable clothing and looks to you with a grin. His eyes suggest mischief as one hand motions to a nearby tavern.
A charismatic and jovial individual, his zest for life is balanced by an unfortunate dismissal of responsibility. He spends most nights in a tavern complaining about the day’s work and trying to drag each and every patron into a song or competition. His particular brand of relentless ‘fun’ can grow tiresome beyond the short term.
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