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The Art of Being a Monster: Treefolk

By the way, as I’m starting to come close to finishing up this series, I am bouncing around the idea of refinishing all the entries and polishing them into a book. Obviously, the posts will stay up and free to all, but would you be interested in a book containing one monster per 2 page spread, with a polished guide as below plus a suggested lair map and “mastermind” version quarter page image for each one? What are some cool/awesome artists that you might suggest I check out to commission for some possible artwork for this?

If this is your first time reading this series and wondering if there’s more, click the “Treant” title below to head to the index page where you can see what future monsters I have planned.

Treefolk

Treefolk in battle should allow nature to follow its course, guided in its path to defeating enemies in combat. The battleground should be pruned and tended into a garden of destruction, each step of which is nearly indistinguishable from the harshness of nature: thorns, swamps, vicious beasts, sinkholes, and hostile weather. What enemies cannot be dissuaded should be weakened and forced to expend their limited resources and attentions before they are ambushed on favorable ground. One of the greatest assets in a Treefolk’s arsenal is time and wisdom, enough to anticipate and plan for every eventuality.

F: Axes and swords of fire are dangerous, but the fighter is weighted down by protective layers of metal, so turn the ground against them with vines and swamp. Then, while out of reach of their edged weaponry, land decisive blows to cripple them. Supplement this strategy with the regular attacks of hit and run minions to distract them and deny them the full number of their weapon strikes and forcing them to cede the initiative by making reactive attacks. Additionally, they will be weak to effects targeting their willpower with gaze attacks, auras, or mind-affecting spores that will work in combination to ruin their ability to engage effectively.

T: Able to creep through without breaking a branch or snagging a thorn, but quite weak to toxins, the thief can be a surprise threat. Stop their use of crippling or devastating blows targeting vital points by obscuring their vision with thick fog, weather, or windswept leaves. As a bonus, this will reduce their ability to avoid harm from attacks by poisonous or caustic minions that target the thief’s constitution, such as slimes, spiders, or snakes. To keep a thief occupied, false magical loci can be implanted behind nigh-impenetrable barriers, like dangling catnip in front of a cat. Alternatively, with the right armor plating, the thief can be directly engaged to smash them into the ground before they can position themselves as a threat.

R: Arrows cannot fly around corners, so thick trees and dense fog will provide cover to engage with the ranger. At the same time, animated trees, thickly plated in bark, should be moved in to shake them from their vantage point. Do not rely on terrain hazards to slow down the ranger, but their overconfidence in the natural world can be used to trick them with false trails, nested hazards, or wild goose chases. In the worst case, it is unlikely that their arrows will do lasting harm and their connection to nature makes them an ideal candidate for parley or diplomatic tactics to remove them from the fight.

W: The wizard’s fire and arcana are the most dangerous both to the wooden form and the natural essence of the treefolk. A well chosen battleground or defensible retreat should be seeded with animate vines, preferably thorned, that respond to attempts to cast spells with aggression and disruption. Those spells that cannot be interrupted should be blocked, attempting to catch the caster within their own area of effect by swatting the fireball or blast as soon as it is released. Additionally, animal minions such as wolves, tigers, or birds of prey that can flank or trip up the wizard are preferred, especially those that can function to keep them out of places with good sightlines on the battlefield. If the wizard is ever close, a minimal number of solid hits will take down the physically frail wizards, as will good doses of poison or spores.

The Cultivated Eternal Wisdom of Nature’s Sages

Treefolk have what other races covet and seek dangerous shortcuts to: time. It is with the careful and reasoned consideration of the many points of wisdom of the world that the everlasting avatars of nature will outlast their enemies and rivals alike. Just as the natural world provides for the lesser beings, so to shall it be a powerful source of solutions and tools, available only to one such as yourself with access to the aeons required to tend and to cultivate. You must plan for it all, because eventually, you will see it.

Maintain gardens of exotic herbs, cures, poisons, and fungi with numerous, overlapping applications.

Ensure good trade relations with hedgewizards and witches for useful allies and a place to trade.

Breed loyal animals and minions to guard your domain, the more innocuous they seem, the better.

Keep methods of extinguishing fire on hand and practice firestopping practices like firebreaks, evacuations, and flooding.

Perform regular clearcutting and controlled burns of the territory under your control for fertility, fire safety, and general inspection.

Do not let your minions or pets harass villagers lest you attract heroes or hunters.

Establish solid claims on your land with the ruling classes of the kingdoms you border for legitimacy and diplomacy. This also serves to solidify your spiritual claim over your domain for relevant magic.

Build a reputation for mysterious and fickle behavior, helping the worthy poor but most often inflicting odd curses or minor maladies as punishment for personal flaws of the powerful or greedy.

Treat yourself and your trees with special rituals, oils, and waxes to resist poisons, diseases, rot, slime, and fire.

Gather magical equipment, disguised as natural objects, to gain abilities such as flight, teleportation, fast movement, control over the elements, shapeshifting, and weather control to enhance your apparent magical repertoire while making foes uncertain of your true limits.

Create backups of your body and wisdom in an array of seeds, sprouts, or tree grafts such that you can regrow in the case of an unfortunate end.

Prepare a cover identity, or multiple, located in urban areas. Having a greenhouse in those spaces with transplants of your rarest vegetation will help you quickly regain any losses if you need to retreat from your domain.

Stay abreast of modern agricultural, logging, and woodworking practices both as they reflect on the perceived value of your forest or land and in any ideas that can enhance your own abilities.

Pretend that mortal perceptions of treefolk are truer than they are, take a long time to talk, think, or decide around mortals.

Find metal alloys that are non-reactive with your physiology to use as a base for armor, weapons, and tools, especially those that can be painted or disguised as wood.

Practice magics that ruin manufactured items and train beasts and insects to do the same at your command. Naked humanoids, deprived of their weapons at a crucial moment, are significantly less of a threat.

Use animated trees, speaking animals, and controlled swarms to conduct any business. Maintain an aura of uncertainty around your true form.

Regularly update your roster so that rivals and adventurers attempting to use your long history against you will constantly be met with new surprises or twists on an old technique.

Create deadman switches that will render your domain uncivilized, primal, and deadly should you perish or need to flee. Not only can it catch your attackers by surprise, but self-destruction will dissuade others from pursuing treefolk in the future as well.

Keep in touch with other treefolk and help them to adopt these points of wisdom, especially those that collectively raise the perceived cost or lower the estimated benefits of interfering in treefolk business.

 

Maintaining the vigilance required by these ideals and eschewing the selfish weaknesses despite their constant weed-like infestation will ensure that your goals will never have to be risked for your existence. The tools that can be created and the solutions found will ensure your dominance and influence upon the world around you, to defend nature or bring it to guide it to its next stage.

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