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Tree of Woe
Size/Type: Gargantuan Plant
Hit Dice: 16d8+128 (200 hp)
Initiative: -5
Speed: 0 ft.
Armor Class: 27 (-4 size, -5 Dex, +26 natural), touch 1, flat-footed 27
Base Attack/Grapple: +12/+19
Full Attack:
Space/Reach: 20 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Absorption, Carrion Stench, Foul Influence, Subjugate Undead
Special Qualities: Damage Reduction 6/—, Plant Traits, Spell Resistance 22
Saves: Fort +18, Ref —, Will +8
Abilities: Str —, Dex —, Con 27, Int —, Wis 16, Cha 21
Environment: Temperate and warm forests
Organization: Corpse-copse (1 tree of woe plus any number of controlled undead)
Challenge Rating: 17
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: 17-30 HD (Gargantuan); 31-48 HD (Colossal)
Level Adjustment:

This leafless tree has alternating patches of blistering red and cracked blue-black bark. Spindly limbs seem to just hang from the tree's bulbous trunk while cluttered heaps of bone and mulch lie around it.

Trees of woe seem to exist only to attract undead to themselves. An unknown number of skeletons, zombies, and worse undead patrol the tree's area of influence like ants in a hive. This area is maintained as a haven to all that is opposed to the living world. The tree's patches of red and blue-black make it appear as if the tree had been exposed to blistering heat (for the former) and frostbite (for the latter). The rotting material around the tree of woe is the remnant of carcasses which are left of creatures that die in the tree's area of influence. Such detritus powers the tree's stench ability and the bones compose the protective undead that can be animated as necessary.


Besides a tendency to sway in non-existent breezes, trees of woe are immobile. However, their abilities to animate and control undead guardians and to exude waves of incapacitating stench leave them far from defenseless.

Absorption (Ex): A low mount of pulpy, glistening, decomposing animal matter extends in a 20-foot radius from the tree of woe's base for a typical adult tree. Any creature lying prone within this area is quickly enveloped in the muddy, festering earth around the tree's roots; a character may avoid this fate with a DC 18 Reflex save (helpless creatures get no save). Complete envelopment takes 2 full rounds, during which time the victim may make a DC 18 Strength or Escape Artist check each round to break free.

Once fully enveloped, a victim begins to suffocate and takes 1d6 points of acid damage per round, and may be freed only by another character who makes a successful Strength check (DC 20 + 1 per round the victim has been enveloped). A dead creature has its flesh and other bodily tissues soughed away from its bones after 30 minutes, and the bones are ejected back onto the ground's surface while the rest of the body is slowly drawn into the tree over the course of several weeks.

Carrion Stench (Ex): Once every 3 rounds, a tree of woe can expel a wave of carrion stench. Several ulcers in its bark open and vent their putrid contents, and all living creatures within 30 feet of the tree must make a DC 26 Fortitude save or be rendered unconscious for 1d6 rounds; those who save are instead sickened for 1d6 rounds. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Foul Influence (Su): The tree of woe exerts its foul influence to a radius of one mile for every 2 HD of the tree. Any animal, giant, humanoid, or monstrous humanoid corpse within this range that remains in contact with the ground for 1 full round is animated into a skeleton or zombie (see SRD). Corpses of humanoids with 2 or 3 class levels are instead turned into ghouls, while those with 4 or more class levels are turned into ghasts; there is a 5% chance that a ghoul or ghast so created also retains half of its class levels (round down).

The tree of woe's primary defense is these undead creatures. In addition to the undead it accumulates with its subjugate undead ability, it may animate the circle of bones that surrounds it. Every round, it may cause 1d6 skeletons to assemble themselves, moving to attack any opponents of the tree in the next round. An additional d6 roll determines the size of each skeleton formed: 1 = Small; 2-3 = Medium; 4 = Large; 5 = Huge; 6 = Gargantuan. Enough bones are normally present for the tree to create up to five times its own HD worth of skeletons.

Subjugate Undead (Su): Any undead within the area of the tree of woe's foul influence (1 mile per 2 HD) must make a DC 23 Will save every hour or be compelled to move toward the tree. The save DC is Charisma-based. Weak corporeal undead are simply brought to the tree to be absorbed, but those with 3 or more HD or having the incorporeal subtype are spared this final fate and instead linger near the tree, compelled to protect the tree of woe from attackers. At least 6d6 undead, mostly ghouls, ghasts, and zombies of various sizes, strengths, and compositions (those animated by the tree), with perhaps a few incorporeal undead, typically roam near a fully grown tree of woe.


Standard — The potentially staggering amount of creatures a tree of woe animates into service allows for an equally staggering amount of treasure. Buried in and around the detritus mound are the items listed below.

  • Amethyst (x5) [110 gp each]
  • Golden yellow topaz (x6) [400 gp each]
  • Rich purple corundum (x3) [600 gp each]
  • Cape of the mountebank [10,080 gp]
  • Potion of haste [750 gp]
  • Staff of charming (30 charges) (bears spiraling design of 4 pairs of eyes chained together) [9,900 gp]
  • 10,020 gp
  • 5,000 sp

In Your Campaign[]

A tree of woe is often the focal point for a location referred to as an "anti-grove" by sages of the natural world. Evil druids can somehow congregate in the tree of woe's area of influence without fear of attack. They treat the tree with reverence as it embodies the aspects of "nature" that they hold so dear—rot and death. Such conclaves of dark druids are rare but when they do occur it is a dire symbol for the surrounding lands.

The genesis of a tree of woe can be a source of adventure in your campaign instead of the more typical scenario of fighting one. Perhaps a powerful evil druid needs to sacrifice his humanoid form to create the tree. Or maybe the tree of woe grows as a result of planting a lich's phylactery in the soil at the base of a normal tree. Whatever the origin, the PCs are called upon by a good druid to stop the tree of woe from being born.

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