Significant Characters: The local village headman, who is very weathy due to a deal struck with a being inhabiting a tree in the ground of his house/farm.
The Deal: The tree spirit is paying the villager two gold pieces per day, and has been for some years. Each day the headman comes out to the tree early in the morning and finds the coins at the base. The coins are very old, probably an unknown type unless someone in the party knows about coins or is themselves more than 300 years old.
|Art by: Benita Winckler|
- The tree spirit is Good and the headman Evil. The spirit is a young dryad who is trying to prevent the headman from cutting her tree down. He hates all women and her normal power of beauty is unable to affect him while she has not grown into her other powers yet. The villagers are afraid to help her, and she is afraid to keep asking them in case the headman goes back on the deal.
- The tree spirit is Evil and the headman is Evil too. The tree spirit is a minor devil bound to the tree until it can perform some great act of evil. The villagers are being manipulated by its supply of cash and are now mostly converted to devil-worship under the leadership of their "high priest" (the headman). They've proved reluctant to engage in human sacrifice from amongst their own, but a bunch of strangers might be a different story...
- The spirit is Evil and the headman is Good. The spirit is a simple tempting daemon from the lower planes sent here by an evil cleric. If it manages to make the headman evil then it, the tree, the treasure, and the headman will all be whisked off to Tartarus.
- The spirit is in fact a succubus and the headman is Evil. The succubus is the headman's "reward" for a rape and murder he committed. Its goal is to get the headman to confess (in fact, to boast) about what he did and for the villagers (or some passing group) to lynch him from the tree. The plan is coming close to fruition and the headman is more and more convinced that he is above the law each day as his gold buys him immunity to various petty acts. Once he is dead, the succubus returns to the Abyss with his soul. The succubus can not directly intervene or the man's soul will not be harvested for her master (although it will still go to the Abyss). She will, however, attempt to prevent a trial as such a lawful intervention would also cause her mission to fail. So long as she does not reveal her role in events, she is able to act.
- The spirit is a nymph who has fallen in love with the headman, who is young and handsome but married. She simply wants to steal him away. He is good, but is becoming corrupted by the money and the fact that he is hiding its source from his wife, not to mention the nymph's attractions. The nymph does not want to use magic; she wants him honestly, at least by her elastic definition of "honest". She is CN.
- The (CN) tree spirit is attempting to become a god and in return for the gold simply asks to be worshipped. Currently, the villagers are going along with the headman's suggestions that they worship nature and the tree spirit is able to grant him first level spells. If the tree can gather worship from higher level characters then it may be able to progress in its plans. The spirit has limited super-sentience and can offer a party aid as if it were a divination spell (cleric, 4th level ) cast by a 7th level cleric. It can/will do this no more than once per day and only if there is sacrifice or a solid promise of some high level worshippers on a long-term basis.