The Lonesome Road
|Climate/Terrain:||Subtropical to tropical/Swamps (Souragne)|
|Treasure:||O + Special|
|No. of Attacks:||1|
|Damage/Attack:||1d8 or see below|
|Special Attacks:||See below|
|Special Defenses:||+2 to Hit, Undead Immunities|
Ah, the love of a mother for her child. No other emotion is so pure. No other emotion is so readily taken to its logical conclusion: madness and obsession.
The weeping willow is a particularly tragic and insidious form of incorporeal undead creature found only in the swamps of Souragne. Rare in the extreme, such an apparition is created only when a pregnant woman dies in Maison d'Sablet and her body comes to rest near a willow tree. The spirit of the unfortunate woman is anchored to this host tree, which restricts its movement in unlife. However, its unholy link with the living fabric of the swamp gives it formidable and frightening powers.
Those handful of adventurers who encounter a weeping willow will likely mistake it for a traditional ghost, nature spirit, or perhaps even a dryad. When materialized, the weeping willow appears as a beautiful apparition floating just off the ground. Her skin is pale and luminescent, marked by faint shadows that resemble the outlines of willow leaves. Her hair is Spanish moss, and her body is draped is gauzy green cloth that floats dreamlike on invisible breezes. Tiny yellow flowers cover her hair and clothes. Death accentuates the beauty of the spirit, so that even the homliest woman in life is striking in death. The creature’s face, however, is marred by its look of anguish, and its neverending tears, which run like sticky sap down the woman’s ghostly cheeks. The weeping willow cries ceaselessly, her sobs echoing through the bayou.
In its “natural” state, the weeping willow is anchored to its host tree. Its form appears in the bark of the tree as the vague shape of a beautiful, sinuous woman. The willow is incapable of any movement or special abilities in this form, though tears of sap run from what could be considered its eyes.
Combat: The weeping willow can materialize in its ghostly form at will, but the process takes a full round. Dissolving this form also takes one round. While the willow is undergoing materialization of dissolution, she is vulnerable to attack and may take no other actions. While she is materialized, the woman's form is not visible in the bark of the host tree. The weeping willow may never move more than thirty feet from the center of its host tree.
The weeping willow can lure victims to its tree with its pitiful sobs. Her anguished cries can be heard from as far away as one hundred yards, and all those who hear it must make a saving throw vs. spell. Failure indicates that the victim is struck by the intense sorrow of the creature, and begins moving towards the host tree at his normal walking rate. Those who attempt to restrain the victim will be violently attacked by him. Those who make their saving throw are immune to the willow’s lure until they next encounter it.
Those who approach the willow, whether lured or not, are addressed by the apparition in between choking sobs. The willow asks in desperation if they have seen her child, or know anything about it at all. Her inquiries, however, are largely rhetorical, as she is interested in examining their memories for herself. If her victims honestly claim to be ignorant of the whereabouts of the child, the willow will look even more forlorn. Those who fabricate knowledge of the child will be recieved ecstatically. All the while, the willow slowly moves towards the individuals she is addressing. When an individual gets close enough for the willow to touch them, she will attempt to embrace them, pretending to be overjoyed or looking for consolation. It is then that she will employ her ability to drain memories.
The willow need not make an attack roll to drain her victim’s memories if she can cloak her attack in an relatively innocent gesture, such as an embrace. Victims lose 1d10 × 10 weeks of memories beginning with the attack and going back in time. A successful save vs. spell indicates that the loss is only temporary. In such a case, the memories return completely in 3d10 days. Permanent memory loss can only be regained through powerful magical spells or psychic surgery.
The willow’s memory drain is subtle. DM’s should make the saving throw secretly for the victim in question, and then take the player aside and explain the situation. Victims of the memory drain act dazed for a round or two and are not entirely aware of what just occurred to them. This may may give the willow time to drain the memories of other victims before the group catches on and becomes hostile. The willow is not interested in extended physical confrontation. If attacked, she will dissolve her ghostly form and return to her host tree, to wait until her assailants leave.
The most obvious solution to the destruction of a weeping willow is to cut down or otherwise destroy the host tree. This is an efficient course of action, but a dangerous one. Although the weeping willow does not suffer damage done to the host tree, she is murderously protective of it. Harming the host tree in any way will send the weeping willow into a frenzy. She will immediately materialize if she has not already, and begin viciously attacking those who are trying to harm the tree. It is only at this time that the willow will employ her ability to cause wounds. The willow’s touch now causing 1d8 points of damage, inflicting horrible pain on her victims. While in this frenzy, she attacks with a +4 bonus to hit, but suffers a -4 penalty to her Armor Class. Those killed by a weeping willow’s attack rise as ordinary ghosts, but are never anchored to the site of the willow's host tree.
Weeping willows may only be harmed in their materialized form, and may only be struck by weapons of +2 or greater enchantment. If attacked in the Ethereal Plane, the willow’s Armor Class is 4. Like all undead, the weeping willow is immune to charm, hold, sleep, and death spells, or any mind- or life-affecting spells. Likewise, they are immune to disease, poison, suffocation, and paralysis. A vial of holy water does 1d6 damage to a weeping willow. Willows can be turned as ghosts, but a successful turning only results in their instant dissolution and return to their host tree. They may not, however, materialize again for 1d4 turns.
Habitat/Society: A weeping willow has but one motivation: to find its child. The spirit believes not only that she is still alive, but that she carried her baby to term and then somehow lost it. Willows often construct elaborate fantasies about their nonexistent infants, giving them a name, physical characteristics, and even a personality. Victims are lured to the willow solely to determine if they have any knowledge of the child.
Ecology: Being undead, weeping willows interact little with their environment, save for their host tree. Occasional bits of treasure can be found near their host tree, but the most typical discovery are the personal possessions of their victims, including armor, weapons, and other equipment. Most, however, are soon rendered unusable by the swamp.
Anton Misroi recently had the fortune to discover these pitiable creatures. In typical fashion, he determined that they could be used for his own ends. Anton found that be carefully disposing of a pregnant woman beneath a willow tree on his plantation, he could actively create a weeping willow. Such willows are not under his control, but Anton finds they make effective and entertaining sentries against the living, as they ignore the undead.
The Lonesome Road
Last Modified: February 23, 2014, 20:12:02 GMT
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