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Click image to download this free TTRPG battlemap of this Hag’s Blood Tree, then keep scrolling for the detailed adventure prompt written for it.
When entering a remote, country town you notice that no-one’s out. Everyone’s inside their homes and even the tavern is locked. If you look closely you can see some of the locals peeping, scared, from their windows.
Should you knock on any door, a scared local might come out and tell you that no-one goes out anymore unless they need to, and you shouldn’t either. If you enquire further about this, they’ll hastily tell you that at night people have been disappearing from the village, and that every morning there is a trail of different animal prints leading away from an empty home.
It’s horrible, they say. But they explain that they really should be inside, so if you want to know more you best talk to their mayor. With that, they’ll give you directions and as-politely-as-possible close the door in your face.
If you go talk to the mayor, he will cautiously answer the door to his house before inviting you inside. Invited to sit down at his table while making you a cup of tea, he’ll say that yes, the other villager was correct, there have been some horrible disappearances around town. The vanished people always have tracks leading away from their houses, tracks from different animals which change every night.
Some of the locals have tried to follow them, he’ll explain, but they lead into the Dark Forest a few hours walk away. The place is cursed, you see—it’s usually not a problem as they don’t go there, but now folks are being dragged there against their will and… well, they never return.
If you’d be willing to go out and kill whatever’s doing this, they’d all be incredibly thankful, and the town will scrape together what wealth they have to reward you. Should you agree, he’ll thank you wholeheartedly before telling you to find the latest set of tracks and follow them to their source.
When you go out, you will see a variety of different animal tracks leading from a bunch of empty houses, some tracks older than others. The most recent are those of a bear.
Should you follow them, they’ll lead away from the village and into the forest. The area will begin to grow dark, and the sky grey. Eventually you will arrive at a giant tree with a door in its base, and the tracks go inside. You can hear begging and pleading from somewhere higher above.
If you go in, the tracks will lead to a spiral staircase carved into the inside of the tree, leading up. Should you use them, you’ll find yourself inside a study with a glowing red sigil carved on the ground. Outside, the begging voice is louder—and it’s accompanied by an eerie red glow.
When you step out, you’ll see a series of red pools filled with skeletons, chained to the sides of the pools. In one of them is a screaming peasant woman, and standing over her is a tall, thin shadowy figure wearing a tattered brown cloak, bear fur across its shoulders, and a horned deer skull over their hood.
The figure will turn, and appraise you. It is an emaciated man in his 60s wearing tattered clothes. There are small herbs and dried roots tied to his belt, some knives, and a number of bone and feather necklaces strung across his chest.
He will eye you coldly, before saying that he does not wish to harm you—that he is only there to finish his work. Meanwhile, the woman in the pool will beg for you to save her, saying that the shapeshifting monster is going to kill her!
If you ask him to let the woman out of the pool, he will shake his head, saying that he can’t do that. If you ask him why, he’ll explain that he is a druid who travels the world. The land calls to him when it is wounded, and he travels there to heal it. He is doing the same here.
The woman at that point will yell that she did nothing to this area, it’s always been cursed! Her people always kept away from it. He’ll then quip that he walked amongst her village for a few days, long enough to learn that their ancestors fought a war here—a war vile enough to taint the land around it and turn it into this (he will waive his bony hand at your surroundings).
Then he will explain that he has sacrificed 11 people thus far, and only one more is needed before the ritual is complete, and the forest will be cleansed of the taint the sentient species have cast over the natural world. That sacrifice is the woman in the pool, he will say, pointing a near-skeletal finger at her.
Should you try to take the woman out of the pool—who will be in hysterics over this last statement—the man will smoothly step between you; saying that if you try to take her by force, he will use any means necessary to stop you.
If your players stop the druid’s sacrifice, the area will remain cursed despite the 11 who have already died. However, if they let the woman have the life sucked out of her as the druid completes the ritual, the bubbling red waters will change to blue, and the surrounding plants resume a glowing green color. Birds will sing loudly and animals will dart around the forest—and, seeing this change, if your players return to the village, the locals will assume they defeated the evil which lived there and reward them for their deeds.
Perhaps your players can convince the druid, that if there is only one last sacrifice left, he could sacrifice himself. After all, why does an innocent need to suffer and die to save a forest, if she had nothing to do with it and it was all the mistakes of her ancestors? He is, after all, the one who wishes to heal it.
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LUKE: The founder of Seafoot Games, Luke's been making maps and RPG games since he was a child, and spent over a decade creating his own game systems from scratch to play with his brothers. That was before he discovered other TTRPGs existed. Now, he paints the realistic grimdark fantasy battlemaps we're known for, helps write adventures as needed, and spends his free time printing and painting 3D minis, as well as working on his forever in-development TTRPG system.
BEB: Luke's wife, Beb's been writing, painting, and graphically designing things her whole life. She published her first book when she was 20, alongside a handful of sci-fi short stories, and was responsible for writing almost all of our adventures until mid 2022 when Steve joined the team. Now she mostly creates the outlines for the adventurer's guides with Luke, graphically designs documents, handles the bookkeeping (or as she likes to call it, bureaucrat wrangling), and manages the website—but she is slowly delegating these responsibilities, so she can focus on raising her and Luke's beautiful son.