HEX 0312 The Fragrant Mother
This is another part of my Frogstar Peninsula Hexcrawl, typed up all pretty.
I'm trying to fill it with bunches of minidungeons (see also: Blowhole Caverns) so that's what this is, pretty much.
A History Lesson
Once there was a big, semi-intelligent plant called the Fragrant Mother. It looked like a toothy rose plant 40' high. It was inhabited by bog mermaids, who lived inside it and took care of it. Together, they did some pretty great things, including making immorality elixir (see Room 7) and keeping this part of the swamp safe from the Ape King.
But then all of the bog mermaids died, were driven off, or started hibernating. So now pixies have moved into the Fragrant Mother.
They're capricious, flighty, and a bit naïve, but they're not malicious. They aren't as good at taking care of the Fragrant Mother, but it's their home and they aren't leaving. They'll defend their home against thieves and murderhobos tenaciously, but they don't like bloodshed and will try to avoid killing people when there are other options.
They know that the Fragrant Mother is a little bit sick, and they suspect that there's something wrong down in the root cellar (Rooms 8-13). They're too afraid to look, though. If an adventurer wants to get on their good side, cleaning out the basement might be a good place to start.
The Fragrant Mother
She's an old plant, and she's halfways sentient. Or at least, she's sentient in her dreams. When she's awake she's just a big, carnivorous plant that has a vague sense of who her friends are (or at least, these tiny creatures that scrape the parasites off. She used to be a political power in the swamp, complete with mystic powers and miracle cures, but now she's just a big dungeon fill of happy-go-lucky pixies.
Unless she has a reason not to, she'll spend most days spreading charm pollen into the air. PCs who enter her hex have a chance to smell the potent, heady perfume of her scent. Unless they leave the hex immediately, they'll walk right up her, dazed, a sleepwalker. Then she'll pick up the person (gently), raise them to her mouth (a toothy rose 14' across) and give them a sniff. If they smell like violence, fear, hate, or greed, she'll eat them. Otherwise she'll let them go (but there's a 20% chance that she's hungry and will try to eat the person anyway).
The pixies are here often enough to be desensitized to the pollen. Slapping someone who's under the effects of the charm pollen will snap them out of it.
FRAGRANT MOTHER: HD 14, AC 13, tendrils +9/+9 (1d8 or grab, 30' reach, arms have 2 HD independent or body and 17 Str), grabbed opponents may be squeezed automatically for 1d8 damage each turn if she wants to hurt you, after spending 1 turn lifting you, she can swallow you for 2d6 acid damage (stomach has 3 HD, if you want to try cutting your way out), MV 0, ML 9; Sniff—can vaguely read minds, emotions, and especially intentions by getting a good whiff; Charm pollen—sort of like the charm spell, except makes people walk up to her and stand there like dopes, 3 mile radius; Sleep pollen—as sleep spell, 100' radius
Each room will have 1d3-1 pixies in it (min 0). Pixie stats are listed in Room 2.
There are two places in the basement where the passage is too narrow for a full grown human to move easily.
15' long mahogany table, with white oak inlays, covered in squiggles, actually a very accurate map of the swamp. A red bead marks the current location. Pixies pushed table here to seal hole to Room 8 [Flood]. Scrape marks on floor from moved table.
5 pixie houses. Look like elaborate bird houses made from flower stems and braided honey suckle. Glowing flowers on wall. Pet fire beetle (4' long) snuffles in his sleeping bowl. Sixteen fairies live here.
At any given time, 1d8 fairies are in this room and another 1d8 fairies are in the other rooms. The rest are out foraging in the woods.
SMALL FIRE BEETLE: HD 2, AC 14, bite +2 (1d4), MV slow, ML 7; Spew Fire—15' cone, usable 1/day, does 2d4 damage (save for half) and outlines the target in boiling, phosphorescent liquid.
PIXIE: HD 1d6, AC 14, tiny sword -1 (1d4) or tiny iron arrow +3 (1d4), MV fast, ML 7; Each pixie knows a random level 1 spell that they can cast 1/day. Their chieftain has HD 2d6 and is named Strongwillow.
Wall-mounted turtleshell planters hold a dozen different types of swamp flowers. Irrigated by rainwater funneled in from outside. Smells like dirt. Pixies here will be singing to flowers, easily surprised. Each flower is a “book”, and imparts its knowledge if smelled. One flower is a spell book containing a single spell called guiding light (see appendix). The stairs in this room resemble a stack of crocodiles. Oddly enough it looks like someone has taken an axe to these carved crocodiles, and hacked them halfway to pieces. Stairs up to Room 4 [Armor].
Slightly overgrown treasure room. 2 rusty spears and 1 rusty harpoon. Opalescent pixie breastplate (let's a pixie read thoughts). Armored sleeve (+1 AC piecemeal, masterwork) with cuniform on the shoulder. 3 Chicken Feather Arrows (see appendix). The Saddle of Horses (see appendix). 3 crates containing rotted silk (worthless). 1 crate containing 16 sealed jars of spices, each one worth 30s and stamped with bogfolk cuniform. Stairs down to Room 3 [Plants].
5 Fountain of Dreams
Fountain is the most prized possession of the pixies. If drank, it will remove exhaustion and give a player opalescent skin. The next time they sleep, they will be incorporeal until the morning, and able to fly at their full walking speed. If the dreamer flies into the center of the Fragrant Mother's primary blossom, they'll be able to talk to her directly. (She is bestial when awake, but Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 14 when asleep.) There is a 3% chance that the character remains incorporeal and never wakes up. Can be used to scout out adjacent hexes, but flight is slow.
A family of mice lives under the fountain. It's magic has made them weird, and they will approach pixies, sing a rude song about mermaids, and run away. The pixies think they're adorable, and tolerate them very well.
Beautiful tapestry (worth 100s) of different colored fish scales sewn onto human leather. Depicts bog merfolk cavorting around a giant flower, drinking from yellow horns. One plays on a glowing flute. Also in room is a wooden carafe and what looks like a totem pole that is sticking out the backs of it's forearms horizontally so as to make a ladder up to Room 7 [Seed]. Totem pole-ladder will attack anyone who touches it without first washing themselves with water from the carafe. It wants to keep Room 7 clean.
TOTEM POLE-LADDER: HD 3, AC 13, Punch +1 (1d8), MV slow, ML 12; Fall Over—can fall on someone for double damage on a hit, but then spends the next turn standing up; half damage from bludgeoning.
This is where the bog merfolk wizards once cultivated the immortality berries, which could be made into immortality elixir.
This room is softly lit by a pale red glow from the Fragrant Mother's primary bloom, above. 6 flower pots full of ancient, withered vines are covered in yellow-brown inlaid murals. (If a flower pot is investigated, it is revealed to be covered in gold wire, and worth 100s each as art.) Small bag of what smells like dried manure (actually magical neverending bag of manure, good for fires). Small work table holds gardening tools and an unlocked chest. Unlocked chest contains the remains of a giant tadpole skeleton, a packet of still-viable strangle vine seeds, and three vials that once held immortality elixir.
The first vial has long since dried up, and contains only dust and an immortal mushroom. The second vial is filled with a murky brown sludge. If imbibed, it kills the drinker (no save) and raises them as a mindless plant ghoul one round later. The third vial still retains its potency.
If the third vial is poured in the mouth of a corpse, a small tree will instantly grow from the corpse, which will bear one cluster of berries after only a minute. The person who eats all of these berries will gradually transform into the dead person over the course of two weeks. At first personality traits will be adopted, then memories, then physical changes, and then finally the new creature will forget all of its former memories, and will completely resemble the deceased in every way, except that the new person will be the prime of their youth. If the elixir is drank by a living creature, they will die (no save) and a plant will grow out of them in exactly the same fashion. The elixir is nearly priceless.
3' of stagnant, black water on the ground, filled with scum and insect larvae. This is where the pixies threw all of the bogfolk furniture that they didn't want. Scoop-like couches. Spiral beds centered around a thick pole (for bogfolk to curl up around). Root-wooden walls have carvings of bogfolk daily life, but are badly defaced by deep gouges and scratches. If examined, the gouges are also mirrored on the bottom of the table that blocks the hole above. (These are scratches made by Gurdelgur trying to escape.)
Gurdelgur usually hides in the water here, watching the only entrance. She is a bog mermaid ghoul, and she is very patient. The most observant person in the party has a small chance to see her, and succeeds if they roll under their Wisdom -6. Gurdelgur will wait until the party is distracted, and then attack the weakest looking person. If the PCs leave the room, she'll follow, swimming along in the shallow, dirty water (this gives the most observant PC another chance to see her.)
GURDELGUR: HD 3, AC 13, Claws +3/+3 (1d4 + lung rot), MV average, ML 7; Lung Rot—target struck by a claw attack must save or endure their lungs filling up with necrotic swamp water. This lasts 1d6 rounds and targets take 1d6 damage damage each turn unless they spend that turn coughing up swamp water. (Bog mermaid ghouls lack the traditional paralysis, and inflict lung rot instead.)
3' of stagnant, black water on the ground. Low-hanging roots scrape at head and shoulders of people at human height. A few fat-bodied weevils parasitize the roots of the Fragrant Mother. Make a crackling sound as they munch on the roots—heard before they are seen. Gross but harmless. Would take about an hour to remove all of them.
3' of stagnant, black water on the ground. Mummified bogfolk priest days named Morothmo is in here, coiled up inside a broad, flat, cylindrical sarcophagus. Lid depicts his visage. Cruel, calm, heady-lidded. Inside is the priest himself, holding the Flute of Fair Weather and wearing a tarnished bronze torc with a black spinel the size of a baby's fist (worth 500s). If the torc is stolen, Morothmo will animate 24 hours later and stalk the thief for three days, first leaving signs, then appearing in the corner of their vision, and then finally attacking them on the third day in order to retrieve his torc. However, he will not pursue anyone beyond the boundaries of the swamp, and will not seek revenge if a PC sells his necklace--he's too dead to carry a grudge.
Gurdelgur is terrified of Morothmo and will not enter his room.
MOROTHMO: HD 6, AC 13, Claws +6/+6 (1d6 + lung rot), MV average, ML 10; Lung Rot works the same as with Gurdelgur, in Room 8.
3' of stagnant, black water on the ground. There is an indentation in the wall here that looks not unlike a chair. Or at least a place to sit that has armrests. If a person sits there, the roots will begin to mesh with the person. A person could jump out safely when they realize what's happening, but if they linger more than a few seconds, the roots will mesh with their body and assimilate it. All that will be left in the roots is a paper-thin husk of skin and hair.
Seven days later, the Fragrant Mother will bear a fruit. 77 days after being planted, the fruit will grow into a pod, which will rebirth the assimilated person whole, and free from disease and mutation. The person will also lose 1 point of Dex and gain 1 point of Str.
If anyone repeats this process multiple times, the same thing happens, except that they will not gain a point a Strength on subsequent passages (they will still lose a point of Dex, however). Too many uses of this fruit-based rejuvenation will turn a person into wood. The pixies do not know about this function.
If no one tends to the fruit that grows, there is only a 50% chance that it germinates and grows into a pod. Otherwise, the pixies eat it, or it falls into water that is too wet for it to survive, etc.
3' of stagnant, black water on the ground. 1 plump worm (3' long) gnaws on the roots here. This is what is making the Fragrant Mother ill. If the worm is attacked, two more worms will burrow up from the ground. If these worms are killed and no further vermin are allowed to infest the Fragrant Mother, it will begin bearing immortality berries in 3 years.
PLUMP WORM: HD 1, AC 10, Bite +1 (1d6), MV slow, ML 8; Acid Blood—any weapon that hits a plump worm is damaged and gains a Notch or a Ding or just has a 50% chance to become useless.
3' of stagnant, black water on the ground. The bog mermaid runes on the walls here spell out the history of the Fragrant Mother and the decline of the bog people. It also describes how the immortality fruit was made into immortality elixir (but lacks a detailed recipe) as well as how the roots in Room 11 function.
A mound of smelly rubbish in the corner holds Gurdelgur's treasure: a leathery goat bladder containing 204 silver, 9 gold, and a magic blowgun (+1/+3 vs amphibians) made from blackened witch-reed, and engraved with the bog folk runes for “friendship”.
Appendix: New Items
Saddle of Horses
No, the name is not redundant. This ancient saddle is made from horse leather. The pommel is in the shape of a stylized horse's head. And if the saddle is ever strapped to a creature's back, that creature will turn into a horse for as long as the saddle remains on.
The horse is just a horse. It cannot talk or cast spells. The only non-horsey part about it is its mind, which it retains from its previous form. Since bucking a saddle onto someone is pretty tricky even when they're cooperating, it is only possible to put the Saddle of Horses on a willing or helpless target. Horses cannot take their own saddles off. You need thumbs for that. Once you've been a horse you will dream about horses 1d6 times a week for the rest of your life.
The Saddle's last known owner was the famed bounty hunter Phineas Rage, who was fond of riding his bounties back to the sheriff's office.
Flute of Fair Weather
This is one of the most important artifacts in bog folk culture. They'd do a lot to recover it (if they knew where it was), and they'd be very grateful it if were returned.
If the Flute of Fair Weather is played by a human, it will get windy after 1 hour of continuous playing, overcast after 2, rainy after 4, and stormy after 8. If the human is not an experienced flautist, they will lose control of the magic in the worst way possible.
In the hands of a bog mermaid, the flute has more powers, all of them weather-related. Notably, it can be used to calm down storms and summon up stiff winds (although it cannot control the direction).
Chicken Feather Arrows
A target struck by one of these arrows must save or flee in terror for 1d6 rounds. But if the arrow is used to shoot an egg—and kind of egg—it will instead turn into a full-grown chicken.
Appendix: New Spells
A ball of light shaped like a 6' goldfish flies from your mouth. It is as bright as a torch. The goldfish immediately tries to find the fastest “way out”, and then immediately swims in that direction at a walking pace. The goldfish cannot be halted, slowed, or dimmed (though it can be dispelled). As a mindless spell construct, the goldfish has no concept of safety or accessibility, and will swim right through doors without slowing (because that is a path you could take, see?). Big or non-euclidean dungeons confuse the fish, but in general, it can lead you out of a dungeon no deeper than 1 level per caster level. If there are no ways out, or there is no “out”, the fish will freak out for a few seconds and then explode.