Deep Druids, Pt. 2: Brainstorm
I’ll need a base for the dungeon first. Here’s the original blurb from Old School Guide:
“It’s not clear how these creepy cultists find their way into the dungeon, but they sure waste no time filling it with all kinds of gross plants and bugs. Poisonous fungi, yellow mold (see Dungeon Hazards in the Dungeon Master’s Guide), nasty giant insects, evil trees, and weird stick effigies start filling rooms. Every full moon they dance naked in their secret sanctum, around an underground Gulthias treant that looks a little bit like Halaster.”
So I took some time to think up anything and everything that seems cool for an underground druid adventure. Here it is in wall-of-text form!
Deep underground, in a mushroom jungle, grows a large Gulthias tree: a tree spawned from the corpse of a staked vampire. The tree bursts through three levels of Undermountain, starting in the cramped and waterlogged root-caverns, where giant leeches and insects crawl through the muck, passing through the grove of the deep druids, who worship the tree and perform their rituals in its honor, and ending in the garret of the harvestmen, where an ancient arachnid cares for her children – a living carpet of spiders.
The druids tend to this evil tree. They dance naked in its shadow and perform their human sacrifices in its honor. The blood of their victims drains into a shallow underground lake where the tree keeps its roots, corpses floating amidst those winding roots, bloated by the stagnant water. The druids have some mastery of insects and ride giant spiders into the Underdark and sometimes the surface world where they hunt for more souls to sacrifice. Their archdruid never leaves the den without his pet owlbear.
The druids have their next sacrifice prepared: a group of adventurers that was snatched from Halaster’s halls.
Gifts of the tree
Each year, the tree grows two apples – one ruby red and one sickly white. The ruby apple, when consumed, extends life and grants youth. The white apple causes aging and death. This allows the deep druids a great wealth in addition to giving eternal life to their archdruid, who looks like a teenager but is hundreds of years old.
Garret of the harvestmen
Up top is the nest of the druids’ mounts: a vast cavern, covered in silk webs and populated by spiders of all sizes. Their great and terrible mother lurks here in an uneasy truce with the druids. She shares her eggs with them in exchange for worship and food.
This area is truly ancient, preserved by the mother’s webs. The influence of the tree has caused these old fossils and bones to reanimate, and giant lizard zombies wander these halls.
Vampire root caverns
Below the grove is the grotto that holds the roots of the tree. There is barely room to stand in the waist-high cloudy water in these tunnels and the evil influence of the tree has filled them not only with giant slugs and snakes but also with the animated corpses of those that feed the Gulthias tree. Somewhere here lies the emaciated body of a vampire, cradled by the roots that sprung from the wooden stake hammered through its heart many hundreds of years ago. Slowly it regains consciousness, fed by the blood that seeps into the waters.
The root caverns also lair a young black dragon. It envies the druids, but the archdruid keeps it at bay.