Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dangerous Encounter: Skinning The Cat

This simple little encounter can turn very deadly very quickly for one (or more) of the PCs if they aren't cautious. While travelling, the PCs should see a large tree about 30 yards off the side of the road they're on. Sitting propped up at the foot of the tree is a humanoid skeleton. It's fairly easy to see the unmoving corpse, even at this distance. The PCs can throw things at the skeleton, shoot at it, yell, but the skeleton doesn't stir and nothing comes running out to ambush them. 

When they get about 10 yards away from the skeleton, tell them that the body has flies and small insects swarming all over it, as it still has bloody strips of muscle and tissue still clinging to the bones, as if the corpse was slaughtered, stripped, and deposited here recently. There is a satchel laying next to the corpse as well, so whoever killed the victim didn't seem particularly interested in his belongings. At this point, the players are probably watching for the creature or animal that did this. What they may not figure out until it's too late is that the tree the skeleton rests against is also his killer.

The tree is a Skinner Tree (MF rules, page 95). Skinner Trees use their roots and vines to grab and hold a victim while numerous bladed and thorned vines flay and strip the flesh from them, depositing them into a hungry mouth in its trunk. When the victim is dead and all of the flesh is consumed, the Skinner Tree leaves the corpse nearby in hopes of attracting any hungry animals or scavengers. The unfortunate traveler decided to take a nap at the foot of the Skinner Tree and was flayed while he slept.

Skinner Tree (1) (AL C, MV 60' (20'), AC 4, HD 15, #AT 1 (skinning vines), DG 2d8, SV L5, ML 10, mutations: prehensile tendrils, tripping tendrils, natural vegetal weapons, free movement)

If the party gets within 20 feet, the Skinner Tree's prehensile tendrils will whip out from the highest branches of the tree to try to grab and gold the PC. If successfully hit, the PC will take 2d6 of constriction damage while being held tightly. Meanwhile, the Tree's tripping tendrils will wriggle up out of the earth and will grapple their feet and legs to keep escape minimal. Any PC who is successfully grabbed will be dragged nearer the Skinner Tree where its sharp thorned vines wait to slice and dice the victim.

The Skinner Tree's bladed vines do 2d8 hit points of damage, and each hit strips a piece of the living victim's body flesh. If a victim is successfully flayed 5 times, he must make a save versus death on any further successful attacks. Failure means the victim dies of shock and blood loss. Any victim who is successfully flayed 10 times dies of shock and blood loss regardless of any remaining hit points he may have.

If the PCs manage to escape and/or kill the Skinner Tree and retrieve the satchel, they may keep the 6 bottles of high-quality synthehol within (a trader would pay up to 50 gold pieces each for them) as well as the 665 gold pieces hidden in a secret pouch on the side.

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