Dryad Needs a Home
A family-friendly D&D adventure for charaters 1st to 4th level
This adventure is intended for up to 4 characters of 1st to 4th level. This adventure relies heavily on exploration, role-playing, and has ample opportunity for combat. This is a wilderness survival adventure (i.e. hex crawl) centered on escorting an NPC, acquiring a magic item and dealing local bandits. Numerous random encounters are available into addition combat, survival hurdles, and role-playing opportunities.
Dryads are commonly depicted in lore as being mostly nude, beautiful women that live in trees. Dungeons & Dragons follow this tradition as well. The art section contains content that may not be suitable for some families. Alternate options are provided and there is no requirement that any artwork depicting the dryads be used in this adventure.
In the complications section of this adventure, it is mentioned that dryads do not wear clothing and that the NPC must be convinced to wear anything other than vines and flowers. If you do not find this content appropriate for your players, feel free to ignore it.
During our playtesting, our young players found it quite amusing to have to chase the dryad down and wrestle her back into her clothes. It became a funny chase scene each morning which involved a series of skill challenges. Players had to win 3 of 5 athletics or dexterity challenges against the dryad. If the players lost, the dryad proudly sported her lovely vines and flowers for the day. The players would also have to stop periodically through the day as the dryad found new vines and flowers for her outfit, increasing the chance of a random encounter.
While traveling through a redwood forest, the party finds a large clearing, in the center of which stands a giant oak tree. The tree is home to a dryad and her daughter. The dryad’s daughter will turn 12-years-old on the next full moon. If the young girl does not find an oak tree she can bind to, she will die at sunset on the 4 day after her birthday. The dryad mother can’t travel more than 1000 feed from her tree without becoming sick and dieing. The dryad has given her daughter a treasure to reward the party once she is bound to her oak tree.
The party must escort the young dryad, which looks like a young female elf, through the redwood forest to the river valley far to the south before sunset on the fourth day after the next full moon. The river valley is the closest area known to have mature oaks that the dryad will need for the bonding to work.
The young dryad has never been more than a thousand feet from her mother’s tree and is alternately afraid of and intrigued by everything.
The dryad will wonder off if she catches sight of something interesting like a waterfall, cute woodland creatures or a field of flowers.
Having never spent time around non-fey humanoids, her grasp of common is not great, but her elvish is very good. This could lead to some interesting language barriers and miscommunications.
Clothing is a foreign concept to the young dryad. She does like to decorate her hair and body with pretty flowers and vines. She will become fascinated with sparkly jewelry and shiny fabrics. If a female character in the party has a fancy dress or beautiful cloak, the dryad may be convinced to wear it for a while.
If the party is traveling during summer, the dryad will have leaf green hair, which makes her immediately recognizable as a dryad. Otherwise, she will be mistaken for an elven child. If the party does not have any elves, this may become a point of conflict between the party and any elves they encounter.
If the party is traveling during winter, the dryad will have pale skin, white hair and she will be extremely tired all of the time because dryads hibernate in winter.
Along the way, the party will encounter a group of bandits who will attempt to rob the party and kidnap the dryad. If the party is traveling during summer, the bandits will recognize the girl as a dryad and seek to sell her to a nearby human noble. Otherwise, they will ransom the girl back to the party. The ransom demanded may be more than the party can afford or include a short side mission to acquire a local treasure.
A hex crawl is a wilderness exploration and survival adventure. This is time for the Ranger to step up and lead the party. If your party doesn’t have a ranger or anyone with good wilderness survival skills, a hex crawl can become a fight for survival very quickly. Jonathan Pruitt and Jim Davis have put together a great introduction to hex crawls that I highly recommend you watch if you are new to DM’img.
The Redwood Forest
If you have never personally been to the redwood forest, it is hard to imagine the scale of the trees. Even the modern redwoods are dwarfed by many of the trees that lived before humans came along with axes and saws. Spend a few minutes looking at photos of the redwoods so you can get a sense of their scale.
This redwood forest is extremely large and home to some extremely large creatures. A dragon may be seen flying overhead and hill giant tracks may be found while traveling. Because players seldom know their limits when it comes to choosing their battles, I don’t recommend putting any of these giant class creatures within the reach/danger zone of the party. If the party insists on trying to do something silly like tracking the dragon back to its lair, the dryad will become very afraid and eventually just run away in the opposite direction.
Appendix: Random Encounters
Depending on the level of the characters and the length of the journey, I recommend one to two random encounters per day. I recommend a 25% (1d4) chance of nighttime encounters as well.
|1D20||Qty||Name||Award XP Each||Total XP|
|3-5||1d10 +1||Bandits + Bandit Captain||25/450|
|14||5||Swarm of Rats||10||50|
All creatures are also taken from the basic rules and/or Monster Manual.
Below you will find links to various sources for maps that could be used for this adventure. Feel free to make your own maps or integrate this adventure into your own homebrew setting.