Session 12 Return to the Cemetery, and the Women of the Forest

This session we had everyone show up.

They decided to return to the cemetery with their archaeologist (she has Read Languages and is trying to learn this lost language).

Along the way, they stumbled across a grove of trees. The men of the party (not including the one who is perpetually in bear-shape) saw finely-limbed, exotic looking women with tan-brown skin and leaves and flowers in their hair, beckoning to them (separately) from behind the trees ringing the grove. One succumbed, walking into the tree and disappearing into it as everyone saw a woman’s arms come out to embrace him.

They tried to stab at the trees, one causing enough harm to pierce the bark and wood, and blood flowed out onto the ground. They didn’t know if it was the blood of their amorous Halfling in the tree, or of the tree itself, or of the tree-woman. Further assaults caused the tree-woman to eject the stunned and half-clothed Halfling.

Instead of fleeing like the others, another man succumbed to the charms of the tree-woman he saw, and almost stepped into another tree. At this point, another player decided to hack at the tree, evidently trying to destroy it. But the trees were quite old, 10′ across, and his attacks only enraged the tree-women. They concentrated their efforts on him, and he failed against one of them. The others began peppering the grove with Entangle spells to stop his friends from attacking the trees.

They saved him at the last moment and fled all at once, having seen enough of this particular grove.

The return to the cemetery was relatively uneventful. The archaeologist deciphered some writing that suggested the cemetery was more recent than other ruins, and was of lower construction quality. The carvings in the nice tomb with the treasure showed that the one interred (and destroyed last weekend) was an adventurer of great fame. It showed him underground, using his sword to battle vast hordes of gangly-limbed green men. Behind the horde a cruel tower and atop the tower a weird demonic creature exhorting them all onward.

She’s quite close to having enough exposures to the language that she will be able to read it without rolling her Read Languages check. That means she can go back to the few things she failed on and try to figure out what they are, including one book they found several sessions ago. I believe it was in the basement of the Chateau D’ Awesome.

I decided that the grasses of the grove, long though they were, weren’t strong enough to trap someone until the end of the Entangle spell. I gave anyone in grass a new save every round if they spent the round fighting free, at which point they could escape the area of effect. But anyone in the woods, beyond the ring of trees, were subject to the standard Entangle effect (if they failed the save, they were stuck until the spell ran out).

I don’t like using Charm and Geas effects, because it takes away a lot of player agency. But many creatures use those effects, and certainly the PCs have such magic available. So instead of just taking control of the PC, I give them directions. In this case, I explained that there was a magical compulsion to get to the tree and to be blissfully happy with the tree-woman in question, regardless of other responsibilities and friends’ wishes. Love-blindness, you could say. No need to run, but full normal movement toward the tree every round.

This worked fine until one player decided he didn’t want to play along. He tried everything he could to not go toward the tree. He tried to walk through an Entangle spell instead of just stepping a bit to the right to avoid it. He tried grabbing for his friend to join him with the tree-woman, even though he knew his friend was Entangled and could not possibly come with. He did everything short of walking in the opposite direction claiming that eventually he’d go ’round the globe and arrive at the tree by a less direct route.

But then again, if I’m giving the player just one choice, why am I bothering to give him any choice in the matter at all? I really don’t want to just take over completely. In a direct fight it’s much clearer, if a PC is charmed and I say to him that he now views the man in the funny black robes as a trusted friend and his old friends are now his mortal enemies. In these cases, too, there are many potential inefficiencies a player can employ to make sure he doesn’t do too much damage to his friends. And maybe that’s okay – if a Charm merely neutralizes the victim it’s just as powerful as a Paralyze or Sleep effect.

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