The Autumn Dryad

November 6th, 2014

Joshua Zaback

Exotic Encounters Archive

                Autumn Week concludes with an expedition to a wood in which all the trees feature dying leaves and the sounds of whirring insects linger. The air is musty and filled with the scents of decay. A beautiful and dangerous woman emerges from a tree with a broad, savage smile on her perfect lips. The chill air causes your breath to mist, but the woman before you, though she begins to speak in a horrible language beyond your understanding, ceased respiring long ago. Are you ready to face the partially undead autumn dryad?!


Autumn Dryad

                While surely beautiful, the elvish seeming woman before you conveys a sense of rot and decay which mar her good looks and charms. Unlike others of her kind, this dryad offers no teasing words or playful laughter, and instead lurches towards you with outstretched claws like twisted wood. It is only up close that you see her dead eyes and notice she does not breathe.

AUTUMN DRYAD            CR 7
XP 3,200
CE Medium fey
Init +5; Senses low-light vision; Perception +14


AC 23, touch 23, flat-footed 17 (+7 deflection, +5 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 84 (8d6+56);
Fort +16, Ref +18, Will +16
DR 10/cold iron
Weaknesses tree dependant


Speed 30 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee 2 claws +9 (1d6+4)
Special Attacks corrupting caress, kiss of blight


Str 18, Dex 21, Con —, Int 16, Wis 17, Cha 25
Base Atk +4; CMB +9; CMD 32
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Weapon Finesse
Skills Diplomacy +18, Escape Artist +16, Handle Animal +15, Heal +11, Knowledge (nature) +14, Perception +14, Sense Motive +14, Stealth +16, Swim +15
Languages Aklo, Common, Sylvan
SQ autumn tree meld, semblance of undeath, unearthly grace


Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3 – 12)
Treasure none


                Autumn Tree Meld (Sp): An autumn dryad can meld with any tree, as though by the spell meld into stone. While so melded, the autumn dryad gains fast healing 2, but the tree slowly becomes overwhelmed with the power of autumn. Each round, some of the tree’s leaves or needles turn brown and fall off. Within 1d6 rounds, the tree will no longer have any leaves or needles, at which time the effect automatically ends and the autumn dryad is forced out of the tree. Leaves and needles removed in this way grow back in 24 hours.

                Corrupting Caress (Su): An autumn dyad can fill any living creature she touches with the essence of decay that fuels her power. This requires a successful melee touch attack that does not provoke attacks of opportunity and deals 1d4 points of Strength damage on a successful hit. A creature reduced to 0 Strength in this fashion instantly dies, as its body becomes the host for a twisted tree which rapidly grows from its corpse, reaching the height of a small tree in 1d4 rounds. These trees always appear somewhat sickly and bear colorful, brown-spotted leaves of yellow or orange. The autumn dryad treats all trees created in this way as the tree to which she is dependant (with her tree dependant ability) and can move within 300 yards of any tree she creates in this way.

                Kiss of Blight (Su): An autumn dryad can kiss a creature or plant in order to affect it with a severe blight that causes it rapidly wither away and die. If the creature is unwilling, the autumn dryad must succeed on a melee touch attack that provokes attacks of opportunity. Upon a successful deliverance of the kiss, the target suffers penalties as though he were the next age category older than he actually is. The target gains no bonuses in this way. The target does not actually age as a result of this ability, and this ability cannot inflict penalties due to age beyond venerable (or the equivalent). A plant affected by this ability actually ages 100 years. Living creatures stop suffering these penalties after 24 hours, but the effects to plants are permanent. In either case, a successful Fortitude save (DC 22) negates the affect.

                Semblance of Undeath (Ex): An autumn dryad is filled with the energy of dying leaves and gains some of the benefits of being an undead creature. An autumn dryad has no Constitution score and uses its Charisma modifier for determining its hit points and Fortitude saves. An autumn dryad also gains immunities as though she were an undead creature, except that she can still be affected by mind-affecting effects normally. She is not healed by negative energy damage, but is damaged by both positive and negative energy.
                Tree Dependant (Su): An autumn dryad is mystically bonded to a single, enormous tree and must never stray more than 300 yards from it. Most dryad trees are oak trees, but other trees function as well (often having subtle influences on a specific dryad's personality and appearance). A dryad who moves 300 yards beyond her bonded tree immediately becomes sickened. Every hour thereafter, she must make a DC 15 Fortitude save to resist becoming nauseated for an hour. A dryad that is out of range of her bonded tree for 24 hours takes 1d6 points of Constitution damage, and another 1d6 points of Constitution damage every day that follows—eventually, this separation kills the dryad. A dryad can forge a new bond with a new tree by performing a 24-hour ritual and making a successful DC 20 Will save.

                Unearthly Grace (Su): An autumn dryad adds her Charisma modifier as a deflection bonus to AC and to all saving throws.



                Autumn dryads are created when their sacred tree’s leaves change for autumn, coupled with an unnatural, inauspicious, or evil event. This might happen when the moon is full, when an undead creature takes shelter under the tree, or when a particularly bad blight enters the woods. Other times, autumn dryads are created intentionally by evil witches or wicked fey. The means of accomplishing such a creation might include human or animal sacrifice in the presence of the tree, possessing the tree and overwhelming the dryad within, or repeatedly scarring the tree in question.

                However they come to be, autumn dryads are terrible creatures of great malice and wicked intention. Their experiences leave them forever tainted, wiping away the dryad’s former nature, whatever it may have been, and replacing it with a sickening desire to watch the world around wither and decay. They pollute the land, kill local animals, and transform the local humanoid population into their sickly trees, which are constantly locked in a state of eternal fall and often ridden with disease. While autumn dryads rarely desire to see an end to life, they all share a common desire to change and shape the world around them into a perverse mockery of life, transforming everything into a perpetual state of thriving decay. When not torturing the locals, many autumn dryads keep mold gardens containing deadly and exotic strains, or keep dangerous and invasive pets such as giant insects or ravenous boars.