Emerald Enclave Portals
By Jeff Quick
War-torn Tethyr is entering a new period of prosperity under the united rule of Queen-Monarch Zaranda Star Rhindaun and King Haedrak III. After decades of civil war, a single civilization is emerging, growing, and driving monsters out of the land.
For once, logging and mineral resource exploitation are not cause for the Emerald Enclave's involvement. Rather, the exact definition of "monster" is of concern. Fey creatures, gnolls, giant spiders, wyverns, dragons, and even (accidentally) elf inhabitants of the Wealdath have been targeted by lone hunters and angry mobs intent on "clearing the forest of all evil doers and ne'er-do-wells."
The Enclave hardly considers "evil" punishable by death. Gnolls perhaps do not make the best neighbors, but they generally show more respect for nature than humans. The druids don't defend their behavior, and they certainly won't protect any gnoll causing trouble outside the wood. But they do not allow the villagers on the forest's outskirts to hunt them.
Similarly, giant spiders, wyverns, and fey are woodland creatures, not be dispatched simply because they are dangerous or inconvenient. And though dragons can take care of themselves, self-appointed dragon slayers tend to harm the forest more than help it. The druids direct them do their slaying north in the mountains of Amn where blue and white dragons can be killed with less damage to the local flora.
Understandably, this stance makes the Enclave unpopular. Yet, their druid cell staunchly remains, visible and active, protecting the interests of nature. To offset familiarity and retaliation by local "civilized" inhabitants, four druids of the Wealdath cell rotate out every new moon.
The portal they use is formed by the arcing of two oak tree branches near a stationary elf village deep within the forest. Dryads who have seen enough action in their time to gain druid and ranger levels protect these trees. The dryads agreed to let their trees be used as part of a portal and understand the potential danger. They also understand that having the friendship and protection of the Emerald Enclave outweighs any danger that association could cause. The dryads themselves have the ability to open the portal from the Wealdath side, while the portal is continually open from the Ilghon side.
The exception to the rotation cycle is Meller Handspan (NG halfling Drd11), a halfling druid with a green thumb and a silver tongue. Meller is a better diplomat than many court professionals, with a background in Waterdeep which suits him for the job of civil liaison. The halfling smoothes over potentially messy situations between those who live in the forest and those who live off the forest.
Though an excellent speaker and an amiable person, Meller's secret weapon is nothing more complicated than a civilized residence -- i.e., he lives in town. As a visible, friendly figure, he provides a face for the Enclave that the stereotypically remote, stoic druids lack. He drinks at the inn every evening and explains in simple, down-to-earth terms why the Enclave druids do what they do. Meller also makes himself useful, healing the sick and helping people with their animals at no charge. He moves every few weeks to spread the word or quell little problems before they become big ones. He also meets with local mayors and lords to negotiate responsible logging and discuss current events.
Predictably, response is mixed. Some people appreciate that for once in their lives someone explains the reasons behind mysterious movements of great powers. Others are belligerent despite Meller's best attempts, while still others are inconsolably grieved when a loved one walked too close to a forest danger. Still, the higher Enclave circles think Meller is useful enough that he remains assigned to the area indefinitely.
How to Incorporate the Wealdath Portal Into Your Campaign
- Before the PCs enter the Wealdath on some other mission, Meller approaches them for a chat. He offers them magic or some bit of information that they want to know in exchange for a promise not to kill indigent wildlife on their mission -- especially the monstrous wildlife.
- When a farmer's son dies at the hands of a gnoll, Meller stands alone trying to talk down an angry mob. They might just take it out on the halfling if the party doesn't intervene.
- One of the dryads whose tree forms the portal to Ilghon has become ill. Meller is the highest-level druid in the area, but in order to reach the tree in time, he'll have to go through some dangerous territory that he would normally go around. He could use some assistance from any nearby adventurers.