Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dark Yule Tree

Having touched on both Krampus and the Yule Cat in previous posts I wanted to design a holiday horror of my own. While sitting in my living room admiring our decorated Christmas tree my mind started to wonder what would happen if it animated. I have always liked the idea of the Treant in the Dungeons & Dragons game. It first appeared as the ent (Tolkien) in the 1974 White Box but was quickly changed to Treant because of copyright issues.

The Christmas or Yule tree tradition finds its origins in Germany sometime around the 16th century. Initially just piles of evergreen wood with candles it soon changed to the entire tree. The tree was a sign of life with the candles arguably being a reference to the sun. One can completely understand why this tradition gained traction during the cold and unforgiving winter months. But what if the tree that was placed inside a home had its own motivations? What if the tree was actually a vile and wicked creature that was simply looking for its next meal?

Dark Yule Tree

These creatures were once a treant that have been twisted and corrupted by evil and malicious fey. When the midwinter festival begins the dark yule trees advance closer to human settlements. Feigning the appearance of a regular tree their hope to be cut down and brought into a home or mead hall. Once there these horrific creatures wait until their host is sleeping to animate and attack. After feasting the dark yule tree returns to the forest to grow new roots and hibernate until next winter solstice.

Druids are regularly asked to inspect pine tree copses but the dark yule tree is a master of deception. Additionally it is very rare for a community to be haunted by dark yule trees on consecutive years. The trees are far too intelligent to return to the same place twice for fear of being discovered. All across the realm the dark yule tree is something most believe just be a story designed to frighten wide eyed children. Unfortunately for the naysayers these carnivorous trees do exist and although their appearance is extremely rare they gorge themselves on human fare every season.

Dark Yule Tree (5th edition)
Large plant, Neutral evil
Armor Class: 16 (natural armor)
Hitpoints: 64 (8d10+20)
Speed: 30’

STR: 18 (+4)
DEX: 12 (+1)
CON: 15 (+2) 

INT: 16 (+3)
WIS: 16 (+3)
CHR: 8 (-1)

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing
Damage Vulnerabilities fire
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Common, Druidic, Fey, Sylvan
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)

False Appearance. While the dark yule remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a normal tree.
Magic Resistance. The dark yule has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.


Multiattack. The dark yule tree makes two bite attacks.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (3d8+4) piercing damage.

Animate Object (1/Day). The dark yule tree magically animates one or two ornaments it is decorated with. The object remains animate for 1 day or until it dies; until the dark yule tree dies or is more than 120 feet from the tree; or until the dark yule tree takes a bonus action to turn it back into an inanimate object. Animated objects have the following base statistics:

Armor Class: 16 (natural)
Hit Points: 30
Speed: 15’
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+3) piercing damage.