Monday, May 3, 2010

Spirits of the Elder Wood

Despite Mankind's best efforts to tame the wilderness that surrounds him, still small knots of Elder woodlands persist, whether deep in the heart of nearby forests, down in secluded ravines, or even stubborn remnants in the heart of otherwise cultivated lands. Many of these enclaves serve as homes and shelters for ancient spirits of the primeval days of yore. While the sages of civilized settlements often deny the existence of such beings, relegating them to the realm of mythology, many rural folk know they still exist, and show respect and make offerings according to the old ways.

Adventurers who venture into Elder woods would do well to show the same respect, lest horrors from a lost age befall them...

Often appearing as 6-inch-tall beautiful elf-like maidens with butterfly-like wings, their appearance is actually illusory. In truth, they are winged, centipede-like creatures of great cunning. Usually acting as servants of more powerful forest spirits, if left to their own devices they are fascinated with the collection of shiny coins, jewels, and baubles, sometimes amassing small fortunes in the boles of ancient trees. They are easily offended by creatures who do not amiably give up a desired treasure, a behavior they consider irredeemably selfish. A good sized swarm of them can strip a humanoid of meat in seconds flat, and their bite is mildly paralytic (save or as slow spell), making it extremely difficult to run away from them!
(HD1d4hp; AC3; atk bite; dmg1+poison; Save:F1)

A Kelgur is a three-foot-tall, vaguely boulder shaped humanoid with stubby legs, large hands, and a single, huge, blue eye that can see through illusions, darkness, or charms of invisibility. The Kelgur speaks in a gravely voice, and can be quite jovial if approached in a respectful manner. It has a great appetite for well-crafted ales, and a love of bawdy songs and jests. Ugly creatures (Cha9 or less), however, offend it greatly and had best make themselves scarce, or cover up . Kelgur are known to keep to hoards of gold nuggets (worth 4d4gp each) and will sometimes gift them to companionable visitors of appealing looks. Kelgur are vastly ancient, and filled with lore from past ages (as Legend Lore).
(HD3+3; AC4; atk 2 fists; dmg 1d6 each; Save:F3)

The Berai are seven immortal tree-spirits. A millennia ago, they were seven virgin sisters who refused to wed a tyrant favored by the gods, choosing instead to remain wedded to their ancient druidic faith. A great curse was placed upon them, and now they transform into trees each day at dawn, until transforming back into beautiful maidens at dusk. They can charm humans at a glance, and take great delight in male company. Nonetheless, none will lay with a man, and if pressed to do so will be roused to anger. They have magical abilities equivalent to a druid of 7th level, and will sometimes help folk with their healing abilities if properly approached. Despite their hands-off policy, they are extremely jealous and will seek revenge upon favored men who do not remain "faithful" to them. If killed, a sprout will form in the spot, and the Berai will be reborn in 1d6 weeks.
(HD6; AC5; atk spell or dagger; dmg 1d4; Save:D7)

The skoultch is a seven-foot-tall, gnarled humanoid with a bizaare mix of plant and animal features. No two skoultch look alike. Skoultch are fascinated by the everyday behaviors of people, and will creep into towns and villages at night to watch or listen to them through open windows and loose doors, sometimes being so bold as to enter dwellings and stand over folk as they sleep. They are extremely fond of dairy products like sweet cream and cheese, and folk who know of them leave such foods outside as an offering of peace. Skoultch are easily startled, and will react violently to such intrusions on their quietude. However, they are fond of children and will never harm one.
(HD4; AC7; atk 2 claws and bite; dmg 1d4x2 and 2d6; Save:F4)

The Gurule is the undead corpse of a soldier lost in the deepest woods, usually having died of exposure, starvation, or predation. They appear as mummified corpses in tattered chain mail, holding batters shields and rusty swords, and their eyes gleam with sickly green light in the darkness. Sometimes entire platoons of these menacing undead wander around, searching for a home that has long since crumbled into history. For clerical turning purposes, they are treated as "wights".
(HD2; AC5; atk sword; dmg 1d8; Save: F2)


  1. Really nice, Al. I like all of them--they have a very authentic 'old world' feel to them. Perfect in just about any fantasy realm.


    I spent a long time looking at it, because at first I wasn't really sure. And the effect is really well done. But now it's time to come clean: The photo was Photoshopped--wasn't it?

  2. Very nice! These sort of remind me of those weird Russian spirits, some helpful, some ready to drown you. Snagged!

  3. This is damn awesome!

  4. Very useful for me. I'm hoping for a very fey/faerie feel for the Wychwood (in Yggsburgh) and the encounters provided (satyrs, dryads) don't quite have the whimsical, mysterious feel that I'm hoping to achieve.

  5. Nice Brian Froud flavor to those...



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