Lost Lands Mega-Campaign
Hidden underground in a forest of gnarled trees, its roots fed by the sewage-tunnels and flooded caverns, lies the temple of Hel. This ancient wood was once welcomed by the sun, attended to by druids and foresters, and grew outside the walls of Bard’s Gate. Hel had no love for the place, and set to work plaguing it with her followers and vermin. Insects infected the trees, warping bark, and collapsing huge trunks with wood-boring insects. Vile vines known as serpent root dug into the rock and caverns below, weakening the stone until it could not support the weight above, and the grove was lost to the world above.
The wood still grows, sealed within its rocky tomb, though it is now known as Hel’s Forest, and supports only pestilence and plague. This twisted forest has grown to fill the cavern with gnarled roots, clinging vines, rotting leaves and needles, and dark, terrify- ing shadows. Though the sun no longer shines here, the trees still grow, nourished by the foul essence of Hel and her creatures. The only illumination is from phosphorescent fungi, and the entire cavern echoes with the sound of dripping water and madly-buzzing insects.
The Cult of Hel lives in a petrified wooden temple, pockmarked by holes and cracks from years of weather- ing and age. The temple is dotted with sickening pools that are breeding grounds for the insect swarms that plague Bard’s Gate on hot summer days.
Living as it has, the cult has thrived and slowly begun to test its powers against those above. It has allied with the small warren of diseased ratmen, as well as the Piper. The cult has few enemies, save for Freya’s faithful and the druids who protect the forest. The Freya worshippers they plague with locusts and the druids are visited by termites and other wood-boring insects.
Hel’s Forest is ruled by an intelligent, evil, and partially petrified stump of a treant, known Granelle. She was chopped down by the druids, and later given life by Hel herself. The clerics and other followers are evil druids, plague- ridden beggars who lurk outside of Bard’s Gate’s walls, and evil humanoids that seek to claim the city as their own for the greater glory of Hel.
Besides Granelle, the temple is attended to by Edin (see NPC Appendix), a fallen paladin, whose body was cursed for his defiance of Muir, his former goddess, and is slowly decaying from within by the powers of Hel, who only keeps him alive as long as he serves her well. His rusted suit of armor hides a thin, sore ridden body that is wracked with pain and a colony of diseases. During a plague in his village, Edin grew so frustrated and saddened that he cursed Muir and abandoned her faith. Acting in anger, he called upon any god to aid him and to his damnation, Hel responded, granting him the powers of a blackguard as long as he remained her faithful servant. To waver from Hel’s service is to invite instant destruction and an eternity of torment in her dark realm.