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D&D General Dryad thought experiment

Guang

Explorer
So there's a forest with animals, fey creatures, and lots of dryads especially. Then the sky darkens, Mt. St. Helens erupts and covers the entire forest in mud, or a Tunguska event flattens it. However it happens, the trees are killed, buried, and maybe petrified or something.

Obviously all the dryads were killed instantly. But what if they weren't? What would dryads be like, a thousand years after such an event, still connected to their dead-but-preserved trees? Insane and angry, yes, but what else? Would there be physical changes? How would their abilities be different? Would they be some form of undead, ghosts or something else? Is there such a thing as undead fey?
 

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So there's a forest with animals, fey creatures, and lots of dryads especially. Then the sky darkens, Mt. St. Helens erupts and covers the entire forest in mud, or a Tunguska event flattens it. However it happens, the trees are killed, buried, and maybe petrified or something.

Obviously all the dryads were killed instantly. But what if they weren't? What would dryads be like, a thousand years after such an event, still connected to their dead-but-preserved trees? Insane and angry, yes, but what else? Would there be physical changes? How would their abilities be different? Would they be some form of undead, ghosts or something else? Is there such a thing as undead fey?
given the spiritual nature of dyads, they would likely mutate into a new spiritual form assuming a law of the conservation of spirits.

could go fire, ash, earth or death based as far as concepts go.

might look like this
1620719454318.png
?
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
According to the MM, if a dryad's tree is destroyed, they go mad. If an entire forest was destroyed, you could have a very large population of insane dryads running around.

But another consideration is the time factor. Even a year after Mt St Helens seemingly destroyed everything, life was returning. The area is now reforested and in many ways thriving. It's not the same as it was before the eruption, but life is tenacious. In a century or two it's likely there will be no indication (from the surrounding forest) that there was ever an eruption.

So, in many ways it could look like a normal forest but would be haunted by these spirits. According to the lore, powerful fey sometimes bind lesser spirits to trees as punishment for falling in love with a mortal. So I would play up the forest having a reputation for aiding spurned lovers (at a cost) or a place where the heartbroken go never to be seen again.

Then it just becomes how difficult you want things to be. People that were drawn to the forest could be similar to The Lost from Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes or a variation of vampire spawn that feed off of emotion instead of blood. The dryads could be similar to banshees. Perhaps the dryads came together and "resurrected" their trees and there's now some variation of what is basically an undead Treant.

Lots of ideas, but I'd focus on the sense of loss and mourning. Depending on how the dryads were created they were punished forbidden love and then lost their beloved trees. Giving me all sorts of interesting ideas! :devilish:
 

Laurefindel

Legend
What would dryads be like, a thousand years after such an event, still connected to their dead-but-preserved trees? Insane and angry, yes, but what else? Would there be physical changes? How would their abilities be different? Would they be some form of undead, ghosts or something else? Is there such a thing as undead fey?
That's... a pretty cool scenario.

I don't think dryads necessarily die when their tree is destroyed, at least not in this edition's lore. But lets see...

- The forest that was destroyed may have an "echo" somewhere, let's say in the shadowfell, that survived, and the dryads (or some of them) may have migrated there to escape destruction. Now they are coming back as the forest regenerates. Maybe the shadowfell forest echoes back into the material world, or after a thousand years, the new forest is starting to generade its own echo, superseding that of the old forest and allowing the dryads to come back. Evil shadowfell dryads sounds fun, and so is a region of overlapping shadowfell wilderness (or whatever).

- As said earlier, so many dryads losing their trees and going mad simultaneously may be enough of a traumatic event for them to become ghosts - the tortured ghosts of mad dryads, filling a whole region!

- I don't think a thousand years is enough time for trees and plants to petrify, but lets says it is (because fantasy). With erosion, these petrified trees are starting to surface, and along them, petrified dryads. From the concept of "petrified" dryads, you can go the earth elemental route, or even the undead route (although not necessarily evil), or literally, statuesque stone dryads in positions of agony waiting to be reverted to life.

- Perhaps it isn't about the region anymore and the mad dryads spread to the world finding new way of sustaining their existence. Vampire dryads sounds like a cool monster to introduce in a campaign.

- Or after decades of madness, the dryads recovered as nature regained its rights, and since then, there has been an ongoing war between the dryads and the fire elementals (or salamanders or whatever) of the volcano. Good opportunity to introduce a violent, warrior-culture dryads contrasting with their usual gentle nature.

- Or the dryads spread to the world and eventually regained their sanity through contact with mortals. Introduce "free dryads" as a PC race!
 
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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
So there's a forest with animals, fey creatures, and lots of dryads especially. Then the sky darkens, Mt. St. Helens erupts and covers the entire forest in mud, or a Tunguska event flattens it. However it happens, the trees are killed, buried, and maybe petrified or something.
...or humans decide that they want more paper, buildings, and golf courses.

Which dryads version are we talking here? I imagine that they vary slightly by edition. To me, a dryad is a forest-siren, luring adventurers into tree-traps (nooses, cages, angry treants), but that strays a bit from their D&D "roots." These dryads aren't likely to linger without their trees...

But since you mention ghosts, I can see lots of dryad ghosts forming into a ghost-miasma, and anyone stepping into the former forest witnesses an illusory forest put on by the over-ghost, which seems pretty idyllic until the horror kicks in!
 

jgsugden

Legend
In 5E, they regrow the forest using Druidcraft to make new plant life blossom and bloom. They also use Charm to obtain the labor to tend to replanting, etc... They turn to their Treant (and Unicorn) allies to bring forests to their lairs and heal them.

I'd expect that if a forest were destroyed by an eruption in a 5E setting and the dryads survived, the Dryads would have a small grove back in place in a matter of days, and a small forest back in place within a year. For example, they'd travel to the nearest surviving treant (they can cover a lot of ground in a short time), and then ask it to animate and send over 2 trees per day. If they know 3 treants, that would be 40 trees in a week. Then they'd supplement those trees by using druidcraft to plant and bloom seedlings across the region and help them grow using druidcraft. If the ground is too sickly to sustain the growth, they might reach out to druids, use druidcraft, or take other steps to help improve it ... and charm amy nearby people to get them to tend to the soil, bring in better soil, etc...
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Another option is that the tree they are connected to survives as a lava tree (Volcanology photoglossary: lava trees.)

The MM only states that they would experience pain. But maybe instead of turning crazy, they are desperate to rebuild the forest, but these a group of pesky salamander have been attracted to the area. If only there was a brave party to help take care of them.
 

MarkB

Legend
It'd be pretty cool to have a haunted forest that turns out to be haunted by the ghosts of the previous forest that had been destroyed on the same spot.

Maybe the dryads of the presently-living trees beseech the PCs to help rid them of the spirits of the previous forest's dryads.
 

According to the MM, if a dryad's tree is destroyed, they go mad. If an entire forest was destroyed, you could have a very large population of insane dryads running around.

But another consideration is the time factor. Even a year after Mt St Helens seemingly destroyed everything, life was returning. The area is now reforested and in many ways thriving. It's not the same as it was before the eruption, but life is tenacious. In a century or two it's likely there will be no indication (from the surrounding forest) that there was ever an eruption.

So, in many ways it could look like a normal forest but would be haunted by these spirits. According to the lore, powerful fey sometimes bind lesser spirits to trees as punishment for falling in love with a mortal. So I would play up the forest having a reputation for aiding spurned lovers (at a cost) or a place where the heartbroken go never to be seen again.

Then it just becomes how difficult you want things to be. People that were drawn to the forest could be similar to The Lost from Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes or a variation of vampire spawn that feed off of emotion instead of blood. The dryads could be similar to banshees. Perhaps the dryads came together and "resurrected" their trees and there's now some variation of what is basically an undead Treant.

Lots of ideas, but I'd focus on the sense of loss and mourning. Depending on how the dryads were created they were punished forbidden love and then lost their beloved trees. Giving me all sorts of interesting ideas! :devilish:
Also, since Mt. St. Helens has been rumbling again for 16 years now, you could throw in some sort of PTSD for the dryads.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Another option is that the tree they are connected to survives as a lava tree (Volcanology photoglossary: lava trees.)

The MM only states that they would experience pain. But maybe instead of turning crazy, they are desperate to rebuild the forest, but these a group of pesky salamander have been attracted to the area. If only there was a brave party to help take care of them.
I think it's going to depend of version. In 5E "If the tree is ever destroyed, the dryad descends into madness." I do like the idea of lava trees though, with the dryads trying desperately to protect their trees only to have them turn into lava trees.
 

MarkB

Legend
I think it's going to depend of version. In 5E "If the tree is ever destroyed, the dryad descends into madness." I do like the idea of lava trees though, with the dryads trying desperately to protect their trees only to have them turn into lava trees.
Just mind your pronunciation, though. Just one slip-up and "lavatree" becomes a running joke, while your scenario's tension goes down the toilet.
 


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