Most people imagine the open plains and think of idyllic peace. In truth, as farms and cities spread into wild lands, plains form the borders of a battlefield. Plants and animal are cornered, exploited, and erased. From open grasslands to wetlands rich with diverse life, they are either killed or domesticated as new rural communities expand.
Some have found peace in the tall grass. They engage in more delicate horticulture and know the secrets of flower, herb, and tuber in the wild earth. These folk are also driven back, turned to banditry or mass exile by the growth of civilized agrarian societies.
Sometimes, all it takes to become a villain is to refuse the oncoming swell. As they watch the flora and fauna that made their way of life possible vanish, it is only natural to fight back. After all, wouldn’t you?
The Grass Cutter
Marnin Whisperfoot was a typical farm boy with dreams of seeing the world. He learned the ways of stealth and survival, but his ambitions turned as he learned practical skills.
He served the local community as a scout, hunter, and tracker. He hunted bands of goblin for years, until he found himself captured by one such band.
Instead of violence or ransom, they gave him food and knowledge. They had been enlightened, he learned, by a new mistress, one who taught him as well. The glow of her green eyes transformed Marnin’s heart. He regarded his old life the way a gardener sees weeds.
Now, Marnin leads raids on fresh farms that encroach into the wetlands. Where once he killed bandits, he now leads them—leaving the unarmed or the young alive, but killing guards and merchants who drive expansion. Where he once failed to see goblins as people, he now recruits them, taking in the eager and liberating the abused.
A bounty has been raised for the so-called Grass Cutter. As before, he is calm, capable, and fearless. Those who come hunting for him might find themselves the true prey.
Marnin is a scout, but also has a halfling’s Lucky and Brave features. Alone, he may not be too impressive, but he is rarely alone. Any allies he brings are proficient in Stealth.
A Boring Caravan Escort
PCs looking to travel across plains hear rumors of violent attacks on merchants and local farms. Those with keen ears note that only new farms and settlements are targeted.
Regardless, those looking for work can get a free ride, food, and generous pay to escort a caravan supplying an up-and-coming village along the way to the party’s intended destination. It’s easy money, isn’t it?
The attack in the night is quiet and brutal. Human bandits, goblins, and halfling scouts works in concert with grass snakes and whisperweed (see below) to dispatch NPC caravan guards and perhaps capture the PCs unawares. A single solar tuber tossed into the center of the camp can add to the chaos. If noticed early, expect a pitched battle. If not? Marnin tries to take the PCs alive, so that they can bring the message to the city: “Not an inch further.”
Large Plant, Typically Chaotic Neutral
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 19 (3d10 + 3)
Speed 30 ft., burrow 30 ft.
Skills Athletics +4, Perception +4, Stealth +5
Senses Blindsight 10 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Understands Common, Elvish, Sylvan
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2
False Appearance. While the grass snake remains motionless in its true form, it is indistinguishable from normal grass and roots.
Stalker. The grass snake ignores difficult terrain. While lightly obscured, covered by at least 1 foot of grass or other cover, or traveling over difficult terrain, it rolls with advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.
Bury. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) bludgeoning damage and the target is grappled (escape DC 14) and buried in the soil. Until this grapple ends, the buried creature can’t breathe or speak, is restrained, and the grass snake can’t constrict another target. Buried creatures gain three-quarters cover against ranged attacks. A creature that escapes from burial becomes prone.
These magic items can be found in and around a plains or wetlands environment.
Wondrous Item, Rare
This root vegetable stores energy from the sun through a single broad leaf. If dug up and eaten raw, it provides nourishment for the next 72 hours, or can be split into three servings, nourishing for 24 hours per serving.
However, heating the tuber by cooking it or exposing it to fire causes it to explode within a few seconds (on initiative count 20 of the following round). Creatures within 20 feet of an exploding solar tuber must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, creatures within 5 feet take 6d6 radiant damage, creatures between 5 and 10 feet away takes 4d6 radiant damage, and creatures between 10 and 20 feet away suffer 2d6 radiant damage. On a success, a creature takes half damage.
Wondrous Item, Uncommon
This wetland grass waves silently, no matter the weather. By harvesting several lengths of it and wrapping their feet or boots in the strands, the wearer can walk silently for the next 4 hours, rolling with advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks that rely on sound. After wearing once or if unused for a month, the grass dries out and becomes useless.
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