Guardians of Grandfather Tree
Somewhere within the heart of the High Forest, a gnarled oak tree of monstrous proportions towers above the surrounding trees. This is the much-fabled ancestor mound called Grandfather Tree, and it is considered holy ground to a number of Northern barbarian tribes as well as most of the natives of the forest. Four lesser oak trees, dwarfed by the spread of Grandfather Tree’s branches, mark the quarters around its base and act as monolithic boundary marks for the inner cairn and ancestor mound. Only a few rotted stumps and fallen logs remain of any man- or elf-made works here, former tribal totem poles of the Blue Bear tribe.
Long ago, the mound’s champion spirits drove the Blue Bear tribe away for reasons known only to the gods and the spirits themselves. The tribal shaman brought a cutting from Grandfather Tree and planted the now-ancient oak at the Stone Stand ancestor mound to serve as the tribe’s new ancestor mound. When the tribe split between the Blue Bears and the Tree Ghosts with the advent of Tanta Hagara’s corruption, both tribes began single-minded quests to find the long-lost Grandfather Tree, hoping to restore the tribe’s might with a return to its roots. After long centuries apart, the Tree Ghost tribe finally rediscovered the Grandfather Tree and have built a settlement within the forest near it.
The colossal oak tree and its guardian spirits project what is akin to a natural ward. It negates any detection or location magics trained on anyone within 100 yards of its branches, just as the tree itself is immune to location magics and scrying. It also prevents anyone from teleporting or gating within a mile of its central trunk; said magics can be used to move away from Grandfather Tree, but any attempts to teleport or magically move closer to the tree are negated. Allies of the Tree Ghost tribe, and especially worshipers of Mielikki, Silvanus, Eldath, or Rillifane Rallathil, heal at twice the normal amount (via spells or natural healing) when under the spread of Grandfather Tree’s branches.
Finally, the wards surrounding Grandfather Tree allow those of neutral and good morals to approach it; those of evil morals must make morale checks (or saving throws versus paralyzation,
as applicable) every hour to approach within a mile of Grandfather Tree. Those who fail experience bad omens that cause them to decide on another path that leads them away from Grandfather Tree.
Beneath the tree and the mound, the Hall of Mists is guarded by giant ants with regenerative and phasing abilities. The hall is rumored to contain gates and portals to other planes, looking like far more ancient temples than any others in the High Forest, including the ancient ruined temples of Mhiilamniir. Grandfather Tree’s natural wards prevent anything from breaching these gates from their opposite sides, but those who brave the depths might find they lead to various locations among the Outer Planes.
Despite being an ancient oak, all attempts to communicate with Grandfather Tree, including using the speak with plants spell, have proven futile. It has been postulated that Grandfather Tree is simply so old that it takes him hundreds of years to process information and respond. However, it is just as likely that Grandfather Tree is in a dormant state from which he cannot be disturbed. Some believe that he communicates in the way that a god might, with signs and visions.