Trees & Trolls

The Hollow Roots

“Labyrinthine deathtraps.”
“Gods-blasted hellholes out in the bayou.”
“Where all o’ them troll-folk come from.”
“Fairies live in them, I reckon.”
“Seen strange glows coming from the ground. From underneath the trees.”
“They all connect, you go far enough down.”
"There's something big. Something huge, beneath them all."

In some parts of the fens, wetlands and the swamps, there exist a species of tree that is similar in nature to the Tidewater Red Cypress. It is referred to as the Swampmother Cypress by the local communities. Tall as a mountain and straight as an arrow, they rise ever higher out of the water. Their trunks widen beneath the surface, and their roots sink even deeper into the ground than one might imagine. What’s more, they only cease to grow once they’ve reached roughly eight or nine feet in diameter.
High Naturalist and Dean of the Northern Scholastic League, Ibrahm Indranni

Normally, the swampmother cypress would be nothing but a natural wonder.

Unfortunately, in the deep, foul heart of the fetid swamps this is not the case. Trolls abduct humans from the local tribes, and their hideous offspring has all the intelligence and cunning of their human parent with the wickedness and twisted thoughts of their troll parentage. These half-trolls often grow up to be druids of the swamp, and they put the swampmother to good use.

Black magics are used to rot the cypress roots, and crude bone tools are employed to carve them into tunnels. Between the dark spells that inflict a blight on the tree and the tremendous strength of the trollkin, these tree roots are quickly converted into habitable tunnel and cave systems. They are so winding and treacherous that few aside from the original ‘miners’ of the tunnels are able to navigate them. 

What’s more, few have ventured deep into such caves and returned to tell tales, so what little is known by adventurers and the locals would be considered limited at best.

1d20 - What lives in those damned tunnels?

  1. They’ve been abandoned by their original owners. Something else stalks creatures in the darkness: Spiders, their maws filled with flame and their eyes dribbling with magma.
  2. Something else stalks creatures in the darkness: Devils, ready to torment those who wander too deep and too greedily. 
  3. Something else stalks creatures in the darkness: Giant Termites, far too intelligent and polite.
  4. Something else stalks creatures in the darkness: Troglodytes, bursting from the ground and the world below.
  5. Something else stalks creatures in the darkness: Feral Humans, cast out from society and ignored by the trolls because of their lunatic ways.
  6. Five juvenile half-trolls and their troll father. The caves are incomplete.
  7. An empty series of tunnels. The trolls have just left to fetch the rest of the tribe, and will soon return to fill them.
  8. Ten half-trolls and six trolls. They are digging connecting tunnels for an almost-completed hive.
  9. One wizened troll mother and twenty of her hideous spawn. A scrying pool can be found in the tree’s heart, and its crystal surface is enchanting to gaze upon.
  10. Two troll broodmothers and over one hundred trolls.
  11. Fifty trolls, twenty-five half-trolls and a powerful half-troll druid.
  12. Three half-troll druids that have formed a coven.
  13. Twenty trolls and eighty human captives.
  14. One mutant troll berserker.
  15. Five mutant troll berserkers and a dozen troll students. 
  16. Twenty half-trolls and their human parents, cast out from the larger tribe.
  17. Ten troll raiders and twenty half-troll raiders, preparing to pillage a nearby human village.
  18. Twenty troll slavers, preparing to drag a shipment to the swamp border for trade.
  19. A lone troll, preparing his death ritual.
  20. One hundred trolls, one hundred humans and two hundred half-trolls. Connecting tunnels lead to the underground capital that houses almost two thousand trolls.

1d20 - What treasure is to be found in those tunnels?

  1. Twelve golden idols in the shape of bloated, pregnant trolls.
  2. Five dead adventurers and a sword that cauterizes the wounds it leaves.
  3. Saplings from trees long-since extinct. Faces grow in the wood.
  4. Staves crafted of blackened, scorched cypress wood.
  5. Two silver druidic sickles for making the sacred cuttings.
  6. An old man, captive for a hundred years. He can portend the future with bones.
  7. Raw rubies stuck in the stony walls.
  8. Raw silver deposits.
  9. Raw gold deposits that sing a terrible song to those who mine them.
  10. A black orb nestled in a dais of wood and bone. It brings darkness, and calls to the spirits of the dead.
  11. A trollbone spear that painfully regrows the flesh it bites into.
  12. Artifacts from a long-lost race that once lived in the swamps.
  13. Metal that fell from the sky. The trolls worship it.
  14. Captive bog witches that can brew a potion of youth.
  15. Finely-wrought silver birdcages, with swamp thrushes inside. They can lead the way to treasure.
  16. Mirrors of pyrite from deep beneath the tree. It can dispel illusions.
  17. A set of twenty golden rings, each with a very minor enchantment.
  18. Two icons of great power, each depicting a forgotten deity.
  19. A book that has grown from the dead tree. Its living pages slowly spell out cryptic events that have yet to occur.
  20. The hide of a flayed troll, still regenerating.


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