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Deadwood Tree (Dread Codex Monster)

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Deadwood Tree
Size/Type: Huge Undead
Hit Dice: 12d12 (78 hp hp)
Initiative: -1
Speed: 30 ft.
Armor Class: 21 (-2 size, -1 Dex, +14 natural), touch 7, flat-footed 21
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+24
Attack: Slam +14 melee (2d6+10 plus energy drain)
Full Attack: 2 slams +14 melee (2d6+10 plus energy drain)
Space/Reach: 15 ft./15 ft.
Special Attacks: Spell-Like Abilities, Touch of Corruption, Trample 2d6+15
Special Qualities: +4 Turn Resistance, Damage Reduction 10/slashing and magic, Darkvision 60 ft., Deadwood, Immunity to Cold, Electricity, Polymorph, and Mind-Affecting Spells, Lowlight Vision, Undead Traits, Vulnerability to Fire
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +11
Abilities: Str 30, Dex 8, Con —, Int 18, Wis 17, Cha 16
Skills: Hide +6*, Intimidate +18, Knowledge (arcana) +14, Knowledge (nature) +14, Knowledge (religion) +14, Listen +18, Sense Motive +18, Spot +18, Survival +14
Feats: Awesome Blow, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (cause fear)
Environment: Any forest
Organization: Solitary, may be accompanied by 24 HD of zombies
Challenge Rating: 12
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: 13-17 HD (Huge); 18-22 HD (Gargantuan)
Level Adjustment:


This tree has long, gently bending branches with serrated black leaves coating nearly every inch of them. Three patches of what appear to be white fungi rest about 10 feet off the ground in a triangular pattern. When the tree speaks, the top pair marks its eyes and the bottom, larger area is its mouth.

Deadwood trees have been around as long as anyone (including elves) can remember. In the grand scheme of things, these undead monsters balance the scales where treants are on the other end. It is thought by some elven sages that the deadwood trees were created when the dark elves broke away from the surface world and descended into the underearth, leaving behind a taint on the land which infected random treants throughout the lands. Most scholars scoff at this grandiose theory, but none have been able to disprove it so the myth remains.

Combat Edit

Deadwood trees hate all living things. They revel in slaughtering the creatures of the woods and transforming both beasts and men into zombies. While driven by hatred, a deadwood tree is an intelligent and careful strategist. It will make full use of its zombies as cannon fodder, often using the weaker undead to form a wall of flesh over which it can strike at its enemies. Using blight and the touch of corruption, it can recover from a great deal of damage. Fire poses the greatest threat to a deadwood, and if at any point an enemy readies to inflict fire damage, the deadwood will turn its full attention to destroying that particular foe.

Deadwood (Su): A deadwood tree is a bizarre blending of undead, plant, and fey, and has qualities of each species. Most notably, it is unaffected by control plant, command plant, or antiplant shell. A blight spell will actually heal the deadwood tree for half the amount of damage that would normally be inflicted. The deadwood can use its own blight ability to heal itself. However, plant growth will inflict 1d6 points of damage for every two caster levels (Will save half).

Touch of Corruption (Su): Living creatures struck by a deadwood tree's slam attack gain one negative level. The save DC to remove the negative level is 19; this save is Charisma-based. For each negative level bestowed, the deadwood tree gains 5 temporary hit points. Plants suffer an additional 1d6 points of damage from the slam attack. Living creatures killed by a deadwood tree rise in 16 rounds as zombies. At any given moment, a deadwood tree can support a number of zombies whose combined Hit Dice is equal to or less than twice that of the tree. A deadwood tree can telepathically communicate with the zombies it has created; this communication has a maximum range of 1,000 feet.

Trample (Ex): Reflex DC 26 half. The save DC is Strength based.

Spell-Like Abilities: At will — cause fear (DC 14), detect animals or plants, diminish plants, entangle (DC 14); 5/day — blight (DC 17), command undead (DC 15), fear (DC 17); 1/day — antilife shell, antiplant shell, mass inflict light wounds (DC 18). Caster level 15th. The save DCs are Wisdom-based.

Entangle takes the form of withered roots and weeds as opposed to healthy plants.

Skills: *Deadwood trees have a +16 racial bonus to Hide checks made in forested areas.

Treasure Edit

Standard — What does an undead tree do with treasure? In reality, not much. While a deadwood can certainly use magic items, it would rather utilize its already significant powers to destroy (and zombify) living creatures foolish enough to enter its domain. What treasure a deadwood does possess is hidden inside a neighboring tree's upper branches when enemies approach (loose coins and gems are swept beneath underbrush or into nearby holes). Otherwise, the deadwood keeps magical items within its own branches in an attempt to taint their powers for evil.

Deadwoods are powerful monsters and their hope to taint items is not a futile one—for every month spent in the clutches of a deadwood tree, a magic item that requires the bearer to use it in some manner has a 5% chance to simply not work when activated (wasting a charge if the item has charges). Potions are a special case; they have the same percentage chance of mutating into the equivalent of striped toadstool poison (see SRD).

What treasure is kept by a deadwood is from those creatures who died fighting it. For the sample treasure list below, assume that a magic item has been in the deadwood's clutches for 2d4+1 months and roll appropriately for taint:

  • Carved harp of exotic wood with ivory inlay and zircon gems [1,100 gp]
  • Fire opal pendant on a fine gold chain [1,500 gp]
  • Darkwood shield [257 gp]
  • Javelin of lightning [1,500 gp]
  • Potion of aid [300 gp]
  • Potion of cure moderate wounds (x3) [900 gp]
  • Potion of resist energy 10 (cold) [300 gp]
  • Scroll of animal messenger (CL 3rd) [200 gp]
  • Scroll of sleet storm (CL 5th) [375 gp]
  • Wand of shatter (15 charges) [1,350 gp]
  • 2,018 gp

In Your Campaign Edit

There is a certain combination of roots and herbs that can help someone recover from the effects of a deadwood tree's corrupting touch. If the character possesses the knowledge (DC 15 Knowledge (nature) or DC 20 Knowledge (religion) checks), is in a warm or temperate forest, and is willing to take half an hour to search for supplies, he receives a +3 bonus when making his save to recover negative levels. The character can harvest enough supplies to assist 1d6 people, but the mixture only retains its potency for 1 hour.

A spellcaster who understands how to tap into the power of deadwood can increase the power of certain spells by using a piece of deadwood as an additional material component. The spell and the associated effects are listed below on the table. With the exception of shillelagh — which requires a deadwood club—the deadwood shard is destroyed when the spell is cast.

Spell Effect
Animate Dead Increase caster level by 4 (zombies only)
Antilife Shell Increase caster level by 2
Antiplant Shell Increase caster level by 2
Blight Increase save DC by 1
Cause Fear Increase save DC by 1
Diminish Plants Increase caster level by 2 (stunt growth only)
Energy Drain Increase save DC by 2
Enervation Increase caster level by 2
Entangle Increase save DC by 1
Fear Increase save DC by 1
Scare Increase save DC by 1
Shillelagh Enchantment bonus increased to +2

Magic Item Uses Edit

Dead Tree's Blood Edit

The sap of a deadwood is hard to find, because their wood is dry and brittle. A Craft (alchemy) check (DC 25) allows a character to extract one ounce of sap from a slain deadwood tree. When used in the creation of a potion of ghoul touch, one ounce of the sap increases the duration of the potion’s effect to 1d10+5 rounds; however, the victim does not exude a carrion stench. A wand of ghoul touch made from a deadwood twig has the same effects.

Deadwood Bark Edit

Deadwood bark can be simmered in water for seven days to make a magical ink with a successful Craft (alchemy) check (DC 25); a typical deadwood tree can yield 75 pounds of bark when slain, and 10 pounds of bark will yield enough ink to inscribe one spell on a scroll. Using this ink reduces the XP cost to scribe the scroll by 50%; however, it may only be used to scribe spells from the following schools and domains: Necromancy, Chaos, Death, and Evil. Because of its evil nature, deadwood bark is not traded but can fetch as much as 5 gp per pound on the black market.

Deadwood Slaying Arrow Edit

If a slaying arrow is created with a deadwood shaft, the enchantment bonus is increased to +2. The DC to avoid the death effect is 25 for a normal slaying arrow and 30 for a greater slaying arrow. Such an arrow can only be crafted to slay fey, humanoids (all subtypes), or animals. This increases the cost of the arrow by 50%.

Deadwood Weapons Edit

A piece of deadwood may be enchanted to become chaotic or unholy without requiring the creator to know chaos hammer or unholy blight; all other requirements are unchanged. Depending on its size, the weapon counts as a club or a greatclub.

A suitable sized piece of deadwood, when used as the shaft of a cursed backbiter spear, removes the need for the weapon’s creator to know bestow curse; the malevolence of the tree lasts beyond its death, and substitutes perfectly for the spell.



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