After something simply disgusting the last few weeks, I thought we’d go adorable and noble this week. The Wood Woad is cute, determined, protects the forest….
….and is born when you plant a seed in a human heart, which is then planted into a tree.
Wood Woad Woes
I was having a hard time finding any info on how the Wood Woad was originally created for the game, but from what I can tell, it was a relatively minor monster from Monster Manual III for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. It also seems like the Wood Woad went through a bit of a change since then. Once, it was bulky and crude, with solid bark skin, and really chunky features. Think a caveman, made of wood. A woodman.
Now however, the Wood Woad is properly adorable, and has more in common with a Jawa from Star Wars.
The main purpose of the Wood Woad is to be a guardian of the forest. They follow orders as long as they can, but if they are freed by their Druid, they will go off and find something new to protect. While the Wood Woad was designed as a protector, I think that the Wood Woad could be ordered to do many, many things, and Game Masters should incorporate a level of creativity in their use of them. I once had a Wood Woad who ran an “Infinite Golf Course” for fun after it retired. It created Golf Clubs out of wood and rented them to adventurers who just wanted to have fun. Everybody loved it.
The creation of a Wood Woad is actually much more complex than my intro made it believe. A person is sacrificed, and you would pierce their chest and remove their heart. Plant a seed into the heart, and leave it in a crook or hallow point in a tree, then bury the body in the trees roots. Bathe the tree in the blood of the sacrificed for three days, and a humanoid sprout will start to bloom.
The Wood Woad is born with a solid body of oak and a hole where it’s heart should be, just like the person who gave it life. It’s extremely druidic, and I think the idea of creating one of these for your druid character could be a great mid-game quest. If you found somebody who would be a willing sacrifice, that is. Perhaps a dying friend or a sick child from the nearby village. It’s dark, but their soul would forever protect the forest in a silent wooden guardian. That could be incredibly cool, and with the right NPCs it could be a heartbreaking moment for the party, saving the soul of the character, while losing them at the same time. Because the Wood Woad won’t just be a person reborn, they will have ticks and mannerisms that are similar, but none of the same memories.
The things that foreshadow and hints at the presence of a Wood Woad can be subtle, or obvious. That’s up to you. Perhaps the characters just see them standing at the edge of their protected ground, or hear noises that the Wood Woad uses to warn people, like strange words formed from animal noises, or slow groaning tree tones, like the Ents.
You can see the two white trees up ahead. As far as you were told, walking through them would get you into the Fey Plane. But, there’s a figure. A thing that looks like a person, about five feet tall, but with mushrooms growing out of their underarms and feet. There’s thick green moss, wet with snow, just dangling off random parts of its body haphazardly. It’s got nothing in it’s hands, but its staring at us with tiny twin suns hovering in the center of an old hollow tree trunk for a head. It has a disk of wood, like a large hat, that’s building slowly with snow.
It raises a solid wooden hand out, telling you all to stop. You can hear a short birds shrill whistle coming from it. Whether you attack or not, if you keep walking towards those trees, the Wood Woad will stop you.
A Wood Woad has a lot of different ways to communicate. Sign language, animal noises, or even just pointing and gesturing in ways that aren’t complex. A Wood Woad only has one way to fight however, and that is to win or die trying. It will follow their orders to the best of their ability, and not allow anyone to stop It. It can’t be reasoned with. It can’t be bargained with. It will feel no pity. No remorse. No pain. No fear. It has only one purpose. To carry out it’s orders.
Your rogue tries to sneak past, and fails critically. The Wood Woad raises its left hand to its hat and grabs a large branch with its right hand. The branch and hat glow lightly with golden energy, and it holds them as club and shield, then smacks your rogue over the head with a sickening CRACK! While fighting the Wood Woad, it makes no more noise, except the occasional groan or creak of wood bending. It heals slowly as it stands rooted in the ground, taking several attacks and then returning them with ease. It’s club hits hard, and magical energy blasts into everyone it hits with it.
You all drop your weapons and back off, and it stays where it is, healing quickly, then sets its club down and puts it’s shield back on its head. You have a feeling if you tried again it would just win.
Long after the Wood Woad completes its orders, it will stay where it is and think about what It could do next. Once the portal, the shrine, the temple, or the woods loses its magic or purpose, the Wood Woad is free to move on. They may find a new place to protect, they may find a creature or a person to protect. They may even find an adventurer that they smacked over the head and apologize, pledging to serve with them for a fun little while.
You’ve been travelling with your Wood Woad friend for a while. It defends you from all sorts of things, and helps you find food and water in the forests. It also feels like it’s beginning to think of you as its helper as well. How nice.
The Wood Woad is aesthetically one of my favorite Volo’s Guide monsters. The stories you could tell with this creature are fantastic and many, and I think that Druids in particular will have a lot of fun with the ideas I’ve expressed. But any party will hopefully find these silent wooden guardians of the forest something special.
There are also far less splinter jokes in this article than I wanted to include, but none of them worked very well.
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Roll a d20 on the following table to see what the Wood Woad’s orders are!
1: Protect this forest at all costs.
2: Run this Infinite Golf Course until I get back.
3: Sit here and think about what you’ve done!
4: Protect that dog.
5: Go find your friend. (Tell the other Wood Woads to hide from this one.)
6: Write down all the different kinds of birds in this section of the woods.
7: Research waterfalls for me.
8: Find the end of this river.
9: Go save the world.
10: Bring me a shrubbery.
11: Attempt to get to the moon.
12: Never let a tree in this forest be cut down.
13: Give goodberries to all who enter this forest.
14: Learn how to smile.
15: Learn how to do magic.
16: Look under every rock in this forest.
17: Collect rent from all Owl’s inside of any trees that I own.
18: Defend, Guide, and Play with all children who enter this forest.
19: Build me a temple.
20: Teleport to us five overbearing and overemotional humans.