The natural world is an ancient place. There are many secrets that wish never to be revealed and immense powers that aim to keep it that way. Within the densest, oldest forests – where neither machine nor man has ever been – one is certain to find guardians of this power that stem the tide of industrialization. These forests are populated with trees so tall they reach the sky and so wide one tires before walking its circumference, years wrapped in years. Within these trees courses a thick blood of maple and sap. When all is as it should be, this maple pulses idly throughout the tree, moving precious nutrients as it is designed. But, should entities that wish to cut the lumber or pave the ground ever breach the forest’s tree line, one of the aforementioned immense powers will take form – the Maple Elemental.
The maple elemental is an ancient spirit charged with the protection of those forests, large and small, that are as of yet untamed by man. Like maple that is boiled, reduced, and concentrated into a stronger syrup, any maple elemental’s power is directly related to the amount of forest left standing in the world – referred to collectively as The Wilds. As the world loses trees, grass, and animals, those forests that still exist become protected by ever stronger elementals that, like thickened syrup, are denser, more potent, and more threatening. The darker a maple elemental is, the more powerful one can expect it to be.
Guests of the Forest
There are few written records regarding the maple elemental, but those that exist come from one of two camps: people who wrote of the elementals as the author attempted to ‘develop the land’ for business and commerce, and those who wrote of them as visitors to the forest – researchers and activists. It goes without saying that the former are often written on paper stained in blood and syrup.
Maple Elementals are ancient spirits of the forests in which they live. They present themselves to visitors in their serpentine form as a warning, but do not attack unless provoked. Gentle guests are permitted to be among the forest, but not without the watchful eye of a maple elemental from afar. That said, stumbling upon some particular ancient groves, dead trees, deep lakes and other natural temples of The Wilds will incur the authority of an elemental that will not permit passage into these sacred locations. It is unclear for what and why these locations are sacred, but those brave enough to seek answers are not also brave enough to defy the maple elemental. Rumors do circulate; however, that voices have been heard, muffled as if by dirt and stone, just beyond these locations begging to be freed. It is thought these voices belong to buried aggressors of The Wilds – aggressors too powerful to kill, such as dragons and liches contained within The Wild’s powerful grip, trapped under mountains and lakes like tombs.
A Maple Elemental’s Lair
A maple elemental inhabits a single forest and cannot travel beyond the forest in which it resides. A maple elemental’s power directly corresponds to the size and age of the forest. Some forests – newer, smaller ones – may not host a maple elemental at all, but large, ancient ones almost certainly do – especially within The Creaton Kingdom. The air in a forest protected by a maple elemental smells strongly of pine and sugary syrup even where no pine trees are maple trees are present.
A powerful maple elemental – one that guards a large and ancient forest – has one or both of the following lair actions. At the end of another creature’s turn, the elemental takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects and the elemental can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:
Timber. The maple elemental forces a 20 ft. tall by 5 ft. wide tree to fall in any direction it likes. Creatures in that line make a DC 15 dexterity saving throw or fall prone and are restrained by the tree. Two creatures need to take an action together to lift the tree. This is done by a creature readying an action to lift the tree at the same time as a second creature.
Crystallized Maple. The elemental sprays a maple mist in a 30 ft. cone. The mist spreads around corners. Each creature in the mist must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or become doused in maple that hardens over their whole bodies. They become Petrified for 1 minute and take 2d8 poison damage at the start of each of their turns while petrified in this way. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.