This series looks at the corruption that extended use of violent and uncontrolled magic might cause on the landscape, from pollution to neglect to the destructive aftermath of conflicts. We continue by considering magical wastelands caused by abandoned overgrowth.
A magical overgrowth seems much like a rich rainforest, but the difference soon manifests. Vines, fronds, branches, and stalks all resist attempts to carve a safe path. Carnivorous plants, hazardous and poisonous specimens, and strange hybrids abound, interspersed among the ruins of former cultivators—their physical remains long since consumed.
Magical overgrowths press in, eerie, hungry, and unrelenting. Strange patterns may loom, just at the edge of observation, or a ruined structure might suddenly emerge from the foliage.
The Thorny Dilemma
A tangled knot of dark, black, thorn-covered vines bears vague facial features and a distinct pair of jagged overlong arms.
This living spell is a semi-sentient living hail of thorns cast at a higher spell slot, a bursting salvo of plant based projectiles.
Living Hail of Thorns
Large Construct, Unaligned
Armor Class 17 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points 66 (7d10 + 28)
Speed 25 ft., climb 25 ft., swim 25 ft.
|15 (−2)||20 (+5)||18 (+4)||10 (+0)||11 (+0)||6 (−2)|
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned, prone
Senses darkvision 60 ft., lifesense 30 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages: Common, telepathy 100 ft.
Challenge 7 (2,900 xp) Proficiency Bonus +3
Amorphous. The living hail of thorns can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.
Magic Resistance. The living hail of thorns has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Multiattack. The living hail of thorns makes two Thorny Swipe attacks.
Thorny Swipe. Melee Spell Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 22 (5d6 + 5) piercing damage; if the attack hits or misses, each creature within 10 feet must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 piercing damage, half damage on a successful save.
Spell Mimicry (Recharge 5–6). The living hail of thorns makes a +8 ranged attack at a target within 100 feet with a 5th-level conjuration effect, which inflicts 6d8 piercing damage or half damage on a miss. Whether the attack hits or misses, each creature within 10 feet must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or take 2d8 piercing damage, half damage on a successful save.
Harvested from the Wild: Tamed Verdant Mantle
This wondrous item is often found deep within an abandoned overgrowth. They might grow wild or be a leftover tool from a lost civilization that created it.
Tamed Verdant Mantle
Wondrous Item, Uncommon
A long, leafy vine of braided woody tendrils is attached to a palm-sized bark fragment which hosts a collection of tiny rootlets. When you hold the bark to the base of your neck and attune to it, the mantle attaches.
Attunement to the tamed verdant mantle provides a +2 bonus to AC. In addition, you may invest it with a number of Hit Dice up to your total unused Hit Dice. Invested Hit Dice may not be used for healing during short rests while invested.
Investing Hit Dice in the mantle grants you ongoing powers, which you choose upon investing them. You may change the number of invested Hit Dice and the powers you gain after a long rest.
Powers (and their cost) include:
- Vine Strength (1 Hit Die). Gain a 20-foot climb speed and advantage on Strength checks.
- Photosynthesis (1 Hit Die). Consume several leaves of the mantle each day to serve as a day’s food and drink.
- Enfolding Leaves (1 Hit Die). You are unaffected by extremes of temperature (−20°F to 110°F) and immediately stabilize if reduced to 0 hit points.
- Enclosed Breath (2 Hit Dice). You may breathe underwater, in a vacuum, or other low-oxygen environment, as if you were at sea level.
- Thorn Whip (2 Hit Dice). You may cast the thorn whip cantrip, using your character level for your caster level.
- Thorn Fling (3 Hit Dice). You may make a proficient ranged attack, firing a thorn from the mantle for 1d4 damage. Twice per long rest, if the attack is successful, you may have it generate an effect as if you had cast hail of thorns using a 2nd-level slot. You may take this power more than once.
- Limb Growth (5 Hit Dice). The mantle may act as a replacement limb, for an arm or leg severed or lost by a spell effect. The limb provides advantage on checks to escape, initiate, or maintain a grapple.
Additionally, as a reaction, you may sacrifice all invested Hit Dice. This renders the mantle inert. You lose the benefit of all the mantle’s powers, except its AC bonus, until you reinvest Hit Dice after the next long rest. In exchange, you immediately gain the healing benefit of half the invested Hit Dice; roll the invested Hit Die pool and divide by two.
Alternatively, you may sacrifice the mantle completely and gain the full amount of healing provided by the invested Hit Dice. This destroys the mantle, and you lose all benefit from it five rounds later. You may attune again to a different item after a long rest. You may only be attuned to one tamed verdant mantle at a time.
Midgard: Gardens of Carnessa
Described in the Midgard Worldbook, and collected in the Warlock Grimoire, the Gardens once thrived as an unknown project of the Empire of Caelmarath, hidden behind the massive Wall. However, with the coming of Veth-Shoon, it appears much of the overgrowth is now directed by the newly appeared duplicate Green Walker. All manner of carnivorous plants now spill through fractures in the barrier or hang on the top rim. Soon, the Gardens will burst through or over the barrier, and infest the Haunted Lands of the Giants and southwestern region of the Midlands. Reminiscent of the Lotus Mesa, the creatures of the Gardens remain more aggressive and bloodthirsty than those on that distant southern plateau.
Story Seed: Apothecary Now
While traveling near the abandoned Gardens, or after a shipwreck on their shore, the party comes upon an apothecary being chased or attacked by a living hail of thorns.
The apothecary is attempting to retrieve tamed verdant mantles in hopes of breeding them, but the living hail of thorns was crafted to protect those samples the apothecary foraged from their nursery. The living spell doesn’t know when it was given the assignment. However, if provided the proper command word, it relinquishes its task as the mantles’ guardian.
2 thoughts on “Magical Wastelands: Abandoned Overgrowth”
Good stuff, but I think the Tamed Verdant Mantle should be rare. +2 AC is powerful for uncommon.
Added to the Blog Database.
In general, because of the potentially consumable nature of the mantle, the utility of the mantle at lower levels, and the breadth of magical tools available at higher levels, I felt making the mantle uncommon was not unbalancing. Armor class does not usually scale upward in such an arc as to make a bonus of this type excessive. By comparison, the gauntlets of ogre power are uncommon, and might result in a +4 bonus to both hit and damage.
However, I would expect a layer of tailoring to a table’s taste– possibly making +1/+2/+3 (U/R/VR) versions