Bone Trees (3.5e Plant) and the Bone Forest (3.5e Environment)
From D&D Wiki (but with a heavy dose of Doderman)
This environment is a forest- an evil, skeleton-filled, dangerous forest with flesh-craving trees. The wood from these trees is highly prized by many fell interests, including necromancers, death-cults, intelligent undead, and others who meddle with death and the dark arts on a regular basis. A forest with bone trees is invariably full of undead, other evil plant type creatures, burials (ancient or new; mounds, crypts, or mausoleums and the like) and evil fey.
A bone tree is the result of a seed being infused with necromantic energy; either deliberately, as the result of some traumatic event, or as the progeny of a greater bone tree.
If it is deliberately made, the creator must have a hefty supply of bones on hand to feed the tree as it grows. Additionally, under the light of each of the first three full moons after being planted, special wicked rituals must be undertaken. Each such ritual requires a Knowledge (Religion) check DC24, 1,000 GP of rare unguents, incense and oils, and the skull of a freshly-killed intelligent humanoid. Each ritual requires 1 uninterrupted hour, during which time the character performing the ritual chants, burns the incense and applies the unguents and oils to the earth where the seed (inside the fresh skull) is planted. If all 3 rituals succeed, the bone tree sprouts instantly at the end of the third ritual.
Most non-deliberate bone trees grow in soil that has been drenched in blood from a massive battle, or any other place where some great tragedy struck, and the bodies were left to rot (ultimately depositing their bones in the earth). Though not unheard of, this “natural” type of bone tree is rare in the extreme. The trees themselves- and the wood thereof- is in no statistical way different that that of a created bone forest, but is far more aesthetically appealing and therefore commands a higher price.
Only ash, elm or oak trees can become a bone tree, natural or created. Each of these different varieties have different characteristics and ecology.
Some bone trees have no outward appearance betraying their status (the bones are around the roots, having sunk deep within the trunk). This is most often the case when a bone tree takes root in or near a populated or well-travelled area. Most however, have obvious bits of bone dangling from their boughs, or tangled in their roots. The most aged and profane bone trees seem to be sheathed in a bony coating, complete with many terrible skull-faces and bony hands and ribs. Bone trees that grow from the seed of a greater bone tree resemble the original tree but with a malignant, evil twist to the orignal form.
Maturity and aging
Bone tree seeds (produced from a fruiting bone tree) resemble fibrous, vaguely skull-sized and shaped. These sprout into bone trees all on their own, with no need for a special ritual. Lesser bone tree status is achieved within 6 months of sprouting (until that time it is a normal- if grisly- tree). Greater bone tree status is achieved after 50 years.
Effects and Ecology
Lesser bone tree: Undead within 30 feet gain a +2 Profane bonus vs. turn attempts. Corporeal undead gain this ability as well as Fast Healing 1. It can animate any dead thing (with bones) within 50 feet into a skeleton within 1d4 hours. These effects do not stack and are not cumulative, no matter how many trees are together. A lesser bone tree, hewn into an idol at least 60% as large as the tree and of sufficiently excellent craftsmanship (Craft [Carving] DC: 25) conveys all the same bonuses as a living lesser bone tree.
Lesser bone oak: These hearty trees convey bonuses additional to those common among all lesser bone trees. Unintelligent undead within one mile per year of lesser bone oak age are drawn to it and magically compelled to serve and protect it. Lesser bone oaks always have at least one unintelligent undead in their charge per year of age. These undead are not overtly controlled by the bone oak. Rather, they “instinctively” patrol within a few dozen to a few hundred yards of their patron, killing any living creatures they encounter and dragging their bodies back to it.
Lesser bone elm: Because the wood of this variety of bone tree is acutely proficient in channeling and even storing magical energy, evil fey often use them as a kind of spell-cache. While evil spell-casters- and especially necromancers- can make of use of them in the same way, they often to choose not to do so, in order to avoid the meddling of evil pixies and the like. For every ten years of age, a lesser bone elm attracts one unseelie (evil) fey creature, with HD equal to or less than the tree’s age in years. These fey are more exploiters than residents, tending to be inconsistent with “feeding” their tree (if not downright neglectful). They hang around because, for every three years of age, lesser bone elms can store one level of spells; these spells must be from the school of necromancy, have the evil descriptor, or be the spell-like abilities of an evil creature. This ability can only be activated by touch. Aside from these provisions, lesser bone elms are essentially rods of spell-storing (and they work in the same way).
Lesser bone ash: These kinds of bone tree are among the ugliest. Constantly shedding bark the way a snake sheds its skin, lesser bone ash trees are surrounded at their base by bleach-white piles of crumbled shed bark, in addition to the bones already present. Plant-type monsters find this bark highly nutritious. For every three years of age, a lesser bone ash attracts one plant monster, which jealously guards its food source. Such a monster can have no more than 1 HD per 2 years of lesser bone ash age.
Greater bone tree: as lesser bone tree, plus the following – anything dead within 30 feet of the tree is animated as a skeleton in 1d4 rounds. Corporeal ndead within 50 feet gain this bonus as well as a +1 Profane bonus to attack and damage when doing unarmed/natural attacks. Fast healing is increased to 5.
Greater bone oak: As lesser bone oak, plus; Unhallow and Bane, as though cast by a level 20 wizard, emanate constantly from a greater bone oak. They can be suppressed or dispelled as normal, but they resume as soon as the effect that suppressed or dispelled them ends.
Greater bone elm: As lesser bone elm, plus; a hag (of randomly determined type) takes up residence within the tree, constructing a crude hovel in its roots, a drafty lean-to against its trunk, or a shaky bungalow in its boughs. The relationship is a truly mutual and harmonious symbiosis, each creature benefitting from the protection afforded by the other. Such a hag takes command of the evil fey already in residence, who begrudgingly- but always- oblige her command.
Greater bone ash: As lesser bone ash, plus; once per month, a greater bone ash transforms into an plant type monster with stats identical to a treant, except that a bone ash stays rooted in place (Speed: 0; cannot move), and is of neutral evil alignment.
Bone tree wood: Universally rare and difficult to obtain, bone tree wood is- for starters- statistically identical to darkwood; in all cases, bone tree wood can replace darkwood. However, it is corrupted with evil energy. Good characters who attempt to use an item made from bone tree wood lose 2,000 experience (which return when the item is dropped). Working with bone tree wood can be quite difficult. Add +5 to the DC of any Craft check made to craft an item from bone tree wood.
If bone tree wood is set alight, it burns as normal wood does, except that any damage it deals is considered negative energy damage.
Bone oak wood: Weapons made from this variety of bone tree wood ignore the damage reduction of undead and evil outsiders.
Bone elm wood: Armor and shields hewn from bone elm wood can be made into spell-storing items without imposing on such an items’ total enhancement bonus. Spell-storing items made from bone elm wood have twice the capacity of a normal spell-storing item.
Bone ash wood: Bone ash wood functions like a combinations of food and healing potion for plants and plant monsters. Normal plants that have been fertilized with at least one pound of shredded bone ash wood per square yard, will grow to twice the normal expected size, come to maturity twice as fast, and bear twice as much fruit and seed, twice as often. Plant monsters who consume 1 pound of shredded bone ash wood, need no other nourishment (save sunlight) For the next week. Additionally, such a monster instantly recovers 4d4 HP.
Bone wood tree root: The taproot of a bone wood tree may replace the material components of any necromancy spell (within DMs’ discretion). Evil creatures with spell-like abilities may use this taproot to gain one additional use of them. In either case, the root itself is consumed in a flash of arcane light.
Bone Tree Skeletons
The first thing a skeleton does when created by a Bone Tree (unless threatened or impeded) is tear away any flesh left on its body and place it around the trees roots as fertilizer. This material is also draped across nearby branches as a warning to interlopers. Skeletons created by Bone Trees typically stay within 300 feet of the tree and retreat to the tree for healing if injured. When not defending the tree from a threat, the skeletons tend to the tree and maintain the grounds around it. Part of this maintenance is bringing bones -and even fragments of bone- to the tree for integration into its anatomy. The skeletons are also an important part of the bone tree reproductive cycle- specifically, they are responsible for the spread of the bone tree forest. They do this by taking bone seeds out (usually about 40 to 60 feet away, but as much as a mile) from the tree for planting. Most trees only maintain a force of ten to twenty skeletons- the more useful skeletons are kept, while damaged or inferior ones are integrated into the tree.
A bone tree forest is a thing of twisted, morbid, surreal beauty, maintained by the skeletal minions in pristine condition. The trees, while not truly intelligent, instinctively know that a pleasant environment is more likely to attract prey. To this end, when the skeletons are not actively working, they generally hide from sight however possible- in the boughs of trees, or buried in the ground, ready to pounce down upon (or rise up beneath) unsuspecting victims.
You can generally assume that no tree is within 50 feet of each other and calculate how many trees can be in any one forest based on this assumption. Additionally, it is of note that the three different types of bone tree hate one another; to the extent that they have been known to destroy entire forests in relentless, bloody warfare. If more than one type of bone tree exists within ten miles of one another, they are at war. Bone trees of the same type work together against mutual threats (but not individual threats).
Doderman (skeletons! They sure are spooky!!)