Out in the woods, far from any village, is a grand and winding Hedge, perfectly trimmed and metres tall. It encompasses a huge area of the woods, and no-one really knows what lies within; except that it is all gardens of the most beautiful and wondrous sort.
The Characters of the Gardens
This Hag cares for the Mushroom Patch particularly, and is responsible for consolidating waste into the Compost Heap. Her skin is soft and milky, her clothes mouldy and fruiting. She is always damp and smells like oldness. She is meek for the most part, but quickly blooms into a great anger when threatened. She nurtures, but often in the form of benign neglect; she inspects the Mushroom Patches very thoroughly, but rarely takes much action unless forced to. She is more proactive with the Hanging Garden however; though that mainly takes the form of carefully arranged frames for the creepers and plants to grow up and spill out from. She somehow still creates arrangements of great beauty with her laissez faire gardening.
Her schedule takes her all about the Gardens, collecting waste and dumping it on the Compost Heap. She spends a lot of time in the Mushroom Patch and Hanging Garden too.
The youngest of the Hags, she is endlessly energetic and enthusiastic of her care of the Vegetable Patch, Herb Garden and endless trimming of the Hedge Maze. She is particularly fond of the hard-fleshed plants like the trees and bushes, and often forgoes her secateurs for her huge beaver-teeth, gnawing away at branch and trunk. The least subtle of the hags, she scoffs down sandwiches and drags huge wheelbarrows of tools behind her, ladening herself down with axes, shovels, rakes. Her greatest pride is the Promenade through the Arboretum, which she has devoted herself to above all other parts of the garden, though she does have a soft spot for the vegetables too, which she prepares for the Hag's meals.
Her schedule takes her around from the Herb Garden to the Vegetable Patch, round the Hedge Maze, and finally through the Arboretum.
The oldest and most careful of the Hags, Granny Thistles is the most meticulous of the three, and the only one who cares for the Rose Garden: she will not permit the others to touch it save with their feet and gaze. Her hair is knotted brambles woven around flowers, and her eyebrows thorns. Her gaze is stern, and her hands and flesh gnarled. She has the greatest access to and affect on the powers of the Garden, which slightly twists in her presence, more so when she is angered. Of all the Hags, it obeys her over all.
Her schedule takes her down the western side of the Gardens, beginning in the Flower Beds, then the Rockery and Water Gardens, then the Butterfly Gardens, and then down the Promenade to the Rose Garden, where she spends much of her greatest efforts.
The Hag's Cottage
Here is the Home of the Hags, their rooms, their secret belongings, their larder, and the prison which lies beneath it. They sleep here, or maybe they only pretend to sleep. They certainly cook here, and some of what they make is even edible, potentially even beneficial! There are many traps however; nothing malicious of course, it is merely that the natural habitat of the Hag is naturally inimical to humans.
Connects to the Herb Garden, the Flower Beds, and the Vegetable Patch.
The Herb Garden
The herb garden contains many rare and unusual herbs, some unknown to even the most ardent herbologist. They are ripe for the taking, but the Hags come here early in the day, and will quickly notice theft.
Contains the "Tower Ruins", gothically-inclined psuedo-ruins built for the aesthetic pleasure of the Hags, and now home to a Spirit that represents this fascination with decay and destruction, at least on the facade level.
Connects to the Hag's Cottage, the Flower Beds, and the Vegetable Patch.
The Flower Beds
Here, flowers are allowed to grow wild and rampant, with occasional pruning and nudging. There is much beauty here, enchanting and wild.
Contains the Greenhouse, the Glass Stronghold of the Legionnaire's Rose.
Connects to the the Hag's Cottage, the Herb Garden, the Rockery, and the Butterfly Gardens.
The Vegetable Patches
Swathes of tilled earth give way to rows on rows of neatly nurtured vegetables. They are all perfect specimens of course, and some are particularly special. Theft here will not go unnoticed, the careful ordering of the vegetable ensures any absences are quickly spotted.
Contains the "Stone Circle", and the Compost Heap. Much like the Tower Ruins, the Stone Circle was created to have the impression of age for the pleasure of the Hags, and the Spirit within reflects the values that the Hags believe the Circle should have. The Compost heap is the opposite; it is utterly unsightly, filled with rotting plant flesh, and teeming with worms. One of them is horrifyingly big.
Connects to the Hag's Cottage, the Herb Garden, the Hedge Maze, and the Butterfly Gardens.
The Butterfly Garden
Here, all manner of plants are cultivated and specifically chosen to provide a beautiful home for butterflies and other such insects. The Hags have made careful bargains with the insects to insure that the teeming swarms of fluttering bugs will quickly report intruders to the hags, and harass and bother such intruders should they get into a sticky situation.
Contains the Pavilion, and the Fool's Honey. The Pavilion is where the Hags meet for High Tea, and always has a pleasing and magical plate of curious sandwiches, which may or may not confer benefits or curses upon their eater. The Fool's Honey is detailed below.
Connects to the Vegetable Patch, the Flower Beds, the Rockery, the Arboretum, and the Hedge Maze.
The Rockery climbs up a small hillside towards the Flower Beds, and leads down via winding paths to the Water Garden. Many Motelings have been gathered to form the foundation of the Garden. Nephew spends what little of its time it does spend above ground here, and it plays little games with the Motelings when the Hags aren't watching.
Connects to the Flower Beds, the Butterfly Garden, the Arboretum, and the Water Garden.
The Hedge Maze
Winding and Non-Euclidean, the Hedge Maze is a masterwork of topiary spacial Distortion. It doesn't really lead anywhere, except back to the Entrance, to the Lover's Tunnel, and to the Great Fountain at the centre. Or as close to the centre as a non-linear maze can actually have. Sometimes it also impeaches on the Undying Lands, and more than one Fae now endlessly wanders the Maze.
Contains the Grand Fountain of the Nymph Atlanta.
Connects to the Vegetable Patch, the Butterfly Garden, the Arboretum, the Hanging Garden, and the Mushroom Patch.
The Hanging Gardens
Modelled after some ancient city, the Hanging Gardens are thick with the perfume of flowers, and rich with Grape-Vines. There are many small Pagodas on many different levels arranged around one long plaza. Green vines against off-white stone.
Contains the Hot Springs of the Nymph India.
Connects to the Hedge Maze, and the Mushroom Patch.
The Mushroom Patch
Relatively small compared to other parts of the Garden, it is nonetheless lovingly tended to as well. All manner of strange and wonderful fruiting bodies can be found here at all times, though of course the main body of the garden actually lies down beneath the surface, growing and growing...
Contains the Lover's Tunnel, and the Destroying Angel, which is detailed below, and which guards the Lover's Tunnel. The Lover's Tunnel is a secret. None have seen it before, they were all taken by the Angel. Something valuable must be inside, of course, beyond the secret way into the Hedge Maze. Some say it is an elixir of eternal love. Others say it must be a fountain of youth. Who could say?
Connects to the Arboretum, the Hedge Maze, and the Hanging Garden.
The Water Gardens
The calm and serene Water Gardens are arranged around a pond on a higher level, which feeds a small waterfall leading down to a small and perfect lake. After a stressful day, one of the Hags might come here to relax, and wash her calloused feet, much to the chagrin of Pacifi.
Contains the Lake and Waterfall of the Nymph Pacifi.
Connects to the Rockery.
The Trees of the Arboretum grow tall and proud, green of leaf and strong of root. Many bear bite marks, but that's just from the pruning. Many Dryads are here, nurturing the trees, and spying on intruders. The Barkskin Pangolin can often be found here too, rubbing its rough bark-plates against the trees. It is often shooed away by the Hags if they catch it in the act.
Contains the Promenade, and the Starting Point of the Titan Oak. The Promenade is lined with only the most perfect specimens from the Arboretum, and provides a direct and straight path to the Rose Gardens. It is also lined with white-marble statues of Soldiers and Lovers, who spy on the path for the Hags. Some of the Knights might be bold enough to attack.
Connects to the Butterfly Garden, the Rockery, the Hedge Maze, the Mushroom Patch, and the Rose Garden.
The Rose Gardens
The most perfect and beautiful of all Gardens, no mercy at all shall be shown to those who trespass here. None.
Contains the Eternal Tree, the Pride and Joy of the Hags, and which is the source of the Eternal Apples which are detailed below.
Connects to the Arboretum.
Beasts of the GardensThese are essentially the creatures that are on the Encounter Tables, though the Fool's Honey, Destroying Angel, and Sweeper Fungus are placed on the Map, rather than randomly encountered.
The Rose that is also called the Phalanx Rose, or the Spartan Flower, consists of small, plant-creatures about the same size and shape as a child, with heads made of luxurious rose-flowers. They are dreadfully territorial and expansionistic, though the Hags keep them contained in the Greenhouse. They wield spears and javelins made of long, thin thorns, and shields made of scraps of bark, and fight in disciplined formation.
A huge, vibrantly-coloured orchid that moves around on long, vine-like legs. The flower of the Orchid forms a great cup-pit at the apex of the creature, and is full of a thick, almost ropey acidic-mucus that looks like a pit of coiling, roiling snakes. The Orchid uses its tendril-limbs both for movement and manipulation, and throws its prey into the Flower-Pit to digest them.
You see a women, alluring and almost hypnotic in her movements and appearance. You move closer, and she pulls you into her silky embrace, whispering sweet nothings in your ear, your eyes close, content and relaxed. The Plant's jaws close. You are gone.
Wolves made of tense, entwined nettles. They act much like regular wolves, only instead of biting their main form of attack is to bodily throw themselves at you and to knock you down and sting you. It is only painful at first, but after that it is numbing. Once you are too numb to move, the wolves drag you away into the long grasses where it is safe enough to sting you until your heart explodes inside your chest.
This roaming bush-like beast is covered in thousands and thousands of tiny foxglove flowers, each barely the size of a finger. When threatened, the Bush-Beast releases the flowers, which form tiny little fox-flowers, and they rush towards you in a swarm. They deal you no harm, but they force themselves down your throat and into your stomach, where their poison does its work. The bush then slowly envelops you under itself and sets roots in your still warm flesh to feed as you rot.
For all the world it appears to be a willow tree, but stray too close, and the long thin branches whip up into a frenzy and try to loop around your throat and lift you up into the tree to hang you. In larger brawls, those swept up will also be used to batter those that have so far avoided the branches.
Black Widow Lily
A huge spider formed of plant matter. The abdomen is formed by a huge Lily-flower, and the stamen within are a writhing web. The spider's teeth are thorns, and its legs are twisted roots.
A huge, 40 foot long serpent fully 6 feet thick made up of a huge volume of topiary bush. Its only attack is to batter foes with its weight, or "swallow" them up inside itself. It can't digest such swallowed creatures, it mostly has to leave them there and batter them to death with the movements of its innards.
A huge, donkey-sized Pangolin named "Cat" with skin like the most rugged barks, covered in jagged edges that the Hags have encouraged into a diet of meat.
When dormant, they appear to be tiny little vegetable jack-o-lanterns, if disturbed, the vine-like hermit crabs within emerge. Mostly they don't harm you much, they just get in the way and trip you up.
The Vine Kings
Luxuriating men made of vines who only relax and have long, drawn out symposiums on the nature of nature and enjoy afternoon tea with the hags. If disturbed or threatened however, they explode out into horrible vine-tentacled octopus-plant-beast-monsters.
Like men, but lumpy, brown, bruised, and vague misshapen. They run about like children who have only just discovered walking and scream at things when scared. Their screams are physical, and tear up the ground and throw away threats. Their song is melodic and hypnotic. They never fight directly, they only have the minds of children, but they will scream and run about like headless chickens if anyone tries to meet them with violence.
The Destroying Angel
Also called Satan's Angel, or the Demon Fungus, it is a mycellium that spreads beneath the Earth, and is thuslywise invisible for most of the time. When disturbed (ie. when someone walks on it) it fruits up its defence, the Destroying Angel. It is a muted and raw grey, with fibrous wings, hollow eyes and mouth, and "arms" that meld into its chest as if held in an organic straight-jacket. It approaches implacably, and the mouth stretches down and down, fibering the whole body to make the mouth wider and wider, and eventually the entire angel begins to split open to swallow up an unfortunate, and drag them down into the earth. It is almost invincible, and mostly unstoppable, for it is the Mycellium beneath the ground that is vulnerable to harm.
The Sweeper Fungus
A great big rotten ooze that absorbs the detritus and compost that doesn't end up in the Compost Heap. Leaves behind a trail of stinking mold, much to the annoyance of the Hags who never quite seem to be able to schedule the time to deal with it. Not particularly aggressive, but it releases stunning spores when damaged, and wounds erupt with sharp, flailing tendrils.
A honey coloured ooze, mostly content to stick to its lair and cultivate its honey-comb. If disturbed from its tasks, or if the royal jelly it guards is taken, it will spawn swarms and swarms of bees to attack intruders.
The Titan Oak
Basically a massive treant, brutally strong, and uses its strength to hurl front-liners at the back-liners. Basically invincible and somewhat implacable, but really slow and somewhat stupid. It will chase you, but it is so slow that it will quickly give up on it. It can root itself into the earth for quick regeneration, but it cannot move during that time, and up-rooting itself is painful and time-consuming.
The Hazards of the GardenThese can be rolled as part of the encounters above to add extra dimensions to fights, or encountered as barriers themselves.
The earth beneath the Mycellium is soft and spongy, though its appearance doesn't betray this. When stood upon, the fungus sucks the unfortunate down into the near-liquid earth like sentient, malevolent quicksand to entomb you and digest you away from the light and the surface.
This long, dry grass goes for the throat when you walk through it. It tangles you up and pulls you down, entombing you int hick, thick wrappings of grass. Highly flammable, though that also applies to those tangles up in the grass.
Giant, vibrating puff-balls the size of chairs, disturbing them detonates them in a fiery explosion. Not as damaging as you might expect, but the noise is sure to attract attention.
Treasures of the Garden
2 - Fruit/Vegetable Boxes
3 - Compost Bins
4 - Pedestals
5 - On the Plant Itself
6 - Tastefully Arranged in a Vase
Major Treasures of the Garden:
1 - The Green Thumbs
Found strung around the necks of the Hags.
An enchanted digit, blessed by plant spirits to ensure that the wearers garden is always blossoming and blooming, even into the start of the winter months. Somewhat morbid.
2 - The Cherry Blossom
Found in the Deepest Heart of the Arboretum.
A tree of exception beauty, no harm can befall any who stand in its shade, and similarly, any buried within its roots will accept no magics of any kind, except those that aid in the rebirth of its spirit.
3 - The Royal Jelly
Found in the Lair of the Fool's Honey.
Particularly potent, it invigorates the flesh and heals wounds, and the imbiber projects a commanding aura of majesty for a time. Drink too much though, and you become rich and sweet like honey itself.
4 - The Shaman's Friend
Found in the Flower Beds, Butterfly Garden, and Hedge Maze.
The seeds of this Poppy are a powerful hallucinogenic, with a curious twist; when brewed into a tea and drank, the drinker can also see and talk to spirits that are normally invisible. Drink to much however, and you will be taken by them, never to return to your mortal flesh.
5 - Mandrakes
Found in the Vegetable Patch.
These shrieking plants are always in demand by alchemists for their curious properties, the most well known of course is their key part in the creation of Perfect Homunculi (in theory at least).
6 - Sunset Lilies
Found in the Rockery, and the Water Garden.
The petals of this Lily can be ground up and made by alchemical processes into a soft, sweet smelling incense. When burned, it ensures a peaceful nights sleep, and strange, deep dreams of water, and that strange land some occultists call Nevuah.
7 - The Mighty Vegetable
Found in the Deepest Heart of the Vegetable Patch.
It seems just like any other vegetable of its kind, but when removed from the pacifying magics of the Hags, it will show its true nature. Roll on the table below to determine what this is:
1 - The Vegetable grows, and grows, and grows, to huge proportions!
2 - The Vegetable is a particularly large specimen, and will regenerate its flesh infinitely as long as it is allowed to remain rooted into the earth.
3 - If left to mature, it will grow into a 4HD vegetable Knight, who will show great kindness to those who nurtured it in its infancy.
4 - If left to mature over the next year, it will grow into a lignified castle of moderate size and dazzling beauty.
5 - If baked into a pie, those that eat of it will be satisfied for many, many days.
6 - The vegetable will be hard and grey, seemingly rotten, but it can be smelted into particularly potent ore for a curious metal.
7 - If left to mature, the stem of the plant will grow to truly preposterous proportions, opening up a way to the empyreal realms of the sky, or the stygian realms of the deep world, 50/50 chance of each.
8 - If eaten raw, the flesh of the eater will toughen and become ripe, adding addition HP and a small regeneration factor.
8 - Eternal Apples
Found in the Deepest Heart of the Rose Gardens.
These Apples are those that Heracles journeyed for at the farthest ends of the earth. Some say that from their juices, cider that provides life eternal might be brewed. Maybe.
9 - Heart Render Worms
Found in the Compost Heap.
These small worms seem small and innocuous, but that belies a curious savagery when exposed to human flesh. Some particularly sadistic assassins will place one in a target's meal, who will have no chance to survive if they eat it.
10 - Grit Wine
Found in the Hanging Gardens, or the grapes used to make it are at least.
The wine brewed from this grey and gritty vine is also grey and gritty, and thoroughly unappetising. Indeed, few can stomach it without vomiting. Except, curiously, wizards and other such magic users, who find it invigorating and empowering, unless they vomit it up to. They are better at keeping it down that most.