This is the trickier fallout from the temporarily abortive sale of my article.
This specific content got rejected, but I’m keeping the framework, because I want to retool it and try to resubmit it; the content is mine but they want exclusivity (which seems fair!) so I don’t want to step on their toes. So you get the specific lairs without reference to the structure.
Again, this is WAY overdesigned and has only a nodding acquaintance with balance or actual usability. Use at your own risk. You’ll figure it out.
Some content may have been prevented from release because I’m certain I’ll want to try to sell it again. I’ll publish a part 3 when I give up 😀
Level 2 bower
A dryad is a nature spirit (that is, fey) bound to a specific tree (for a hamadryad, an oak tree; meliai are bound to ash trees, epimeliad to apple trees, and caryatids to walnut trees). The grove in which that tree is located absorbs some of the magic of the dryad, or perhaps has a magic itself which attracted or created the dryad. Either way, the following effects apply within 300 feet of a dryad’s anchoring tree:
Sign: Beauty: A creature ending a short rest in the bower sees more of the beauty in all things.
Sign: Fecundity: Plants and animals in the region are much more fructive than elsewhere, and the anchoring tree type more than any. Acorns the size of apples, ash berries like bunches of grapes, apples like gemstones and walnuts the size of your fist.
Trait: Trackless: Attuned creatures do not leave a trail and can only be tracked with magic. Attuned creatures are unaffected by difficult or hazardous terrain which is based on plants or earth.
Trait: Attuned Elysium: Attuned creatures must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw in order to leave. Effects last for 24 hours, either way.
Bower Action: Charm Charmed (recharge 5-6): One charmed creature in the region is also charmed by the bower. This charm matches in all ways the charm the creature was already under, including the object of their affection, durations (the bower may concentrate on multiple effects), conditions for release etc but since its source is the bower, the originator may cease concentration and need no longer count this charmed creature against any limits they may have.
Variant Dryad Groves
Level 3 bower
To specialize a grove to a specific sort of dryad, add one of the following traits, all of which apply only while within the bower:
Trait: Hamadryad Strength (oak only): All attuned creatures and their allies deal +1 die of melee weapon damage, including with the shillelagh spell.
Trait: Epimelial Sweetness (apple only): All attuned creatures and their allies are sweet smelling and full of vitality. They gain 1 current and maximum hit points per hit die and are immune to poison damage and the poisoned condition.
Trait: Melial Evasion (ash only): All attuned creatures and their allies take no damage from spells when they succeed at a saving throw.
Trait: Caryatid Defense (walnut only): All attuned creatures and their allies may take a reaction to halve weapon damage from attacks they can see.
High Elven Dale
Level 5 bower
Elven settlements are a patchwork of bower effects, beyond the scope of this document to enumerate. You can approximate an elven dale with the hallow spell: celestials, fiends and undead cannot enter the bower nor charm, frighten or possess creatures the bower; attuned creatures in the bower can cast misty step (recharge 5-6).
Common Goblin Warren
Level 1 bower
Goblins are a plague wherever they might appear. In some worlds, they are nothing more than violent tribal humanoids, but in others, they are the atrophied descendants of a race of fey shapeshifters. Their magic is gone from their descendents, but in places where the old ways are still observed, goblins can sometimes reclaim a spark of their former might. This spark often drives their mortal frame mad, but a true goblin embraces this state. The powers of a goblin warren wax and wane with some chaotic flux; this aetheric tide receding is reduced the civilization of goblins to its current state. As the goblin moon waxes, the warrens will no doubt increase in strength and number.
Sign: Totems and Goblin-stink: Goblins smell bad, and the ur-goblin state to which they aspire permits even less soap than that. Their territory is marked with gristly totems, which carry the carrion stench afield. Creatures entering the miasmic stench are poisoned for 24 hours, DC 8 constitution save prevents and ends; a success ends the effect and grants immunity for a like duration.
Sign: Spoilage: Any item which would spoil if left on a sunny table for a week spoils in 1 minute within the bower.
Trait: Fey Goblins: Goblinoids that are attuned to the warren are considered fey creatures, not humanoids. Effects specific to the humanoid(goblinoid) subtype still affect them, but effects to the more general humanoid type do not.
Trait: Goblin Magic: Attuned fey creatures learn and can cast the cantrips chill touch, dancing lights or minor illusion at will; attuned creatures with 3 hit dice can also cast hideous laughter 1/day, and once per day (across the whole bower) a single attuned creature with 5 hit dice may cast one of alter self, enlarge/reduce, or invisibility.
Level 7 bower
A lonely old cottage in the woods… but made of candy. An altar to some dark power, tended by a lonely nun. A castle surrounded by a thorny thicket, its inhabitants transformed to animals, a single enchantress roaming its halls. The home of a hag — or frequently, a group of foul sisters — is often a magical place and its layered enchantments eventually take on some of the character of its inhabitants. A hag that dwells within the hut dedicates herself to her pursuits and pleasures, learning dark secrets and becoming, if anything, even more twisted.
Sign: Impossible: Hags do not generally have taste or decorum. As their use of shadowstuff improves, the land takes on some of its quasi-real character. Stone and wood become somewhat pliable, taking on the textures of candies or hard cheeses. Water becomes viscous like syrup or whiskey. Grass, green and brittle, like sugar candy. This is a surface effect; a dungeon of stone remains inviolate, though the bars must be thicker.
Trait: Spellcasting: The weird sisters who dwell in the hut gain access to unusual powers. Collectively, attuned creatures may cast (without preparation, with the indicated number of slots per level pooled across all attuned creatures)
7th level (1/day): plane shift, simulacrum
6th level (2/day): eyebite, flesh to stone, programmed illusion
5th level (2/day): legend lore, scrying, seeming
4th level (3/day): arcane eye, hallucinatory terrain, polymorph
3rd level (4/day): bestow curse, fear, fly
2nd level (4/day): suggestion
1st level (4/day): silent image
These slots may only be withdrawn or regenerated while within the bower, though can be brought away if needed.
Trait: Wandering: The bower doesn’t generally stay still. It can move in a variety of ways, but the important thing is that its highest level (or hit dice) inhabitant can determine its movement, and that it moves at 30 feet per round, whether that be teleportation, walking, flight, or burrowing.
Bower Action: Alert: The bower alerts each attuned creature to danger. That creature gains +1d4 on attack rolls and saving throws for 1 round and cannot be surprised during that round.
Bower Action: Curse: One creature which is the subject of a bestow curse spell has the duration of the spell made permanent.
Bower Action: Assist: Casts animate objects with a duration until this ability is used again, creating up to 10 small objects; medium count as 2, large 4 and huge eight, under the command of the bower (as directed by the highest level or hit die attuned creature).
Level 2 bower
Merfolk have dealings with terrestrial folk betimes, and when they do, the areas in which they come to dwell become magical. Merfolk who do these things might be called selkies, or those might be a different creature in your world.
Sign: Coral: The presence of undersea visitors brings the trappings of the deep with them. The shores and cliffs of a merfolk pool are chased with colorful coral, and vibrant with sealife.
Trait: Sea legs: Attuned creatures may grow legs or merfolk fins at the end of each long rest in the pool. Fins grant a swim speed equal to walking speed + 10 feet and water breathing, while legs grant a walk speed 10 feet slower than swim speed and air breathing. The effect reverts at the end of the next long rest.
Trait: Current events: Once per short rest, one attuned creature may cast sending, targeting any creature currently within or attuned to any merfolk bower.
Level 4 bower
When most folk imagine an enchanted fairy’s home, this is what they’re picturing. The area is filled with fireflies and floating balls of light, there is the sound of ethereal bells and laughing, good smells and the golden light of twilight. The center of the glade is where the sprites and the noble sprites hold court, centered around a pool or fountain.
Sign: Dancing Lights: The lights, sounds and smells within the glade are that of a forest at dusk, alive with fireflies.
Trait: Twilight Fade: Attuned creatures ending their turn in the bower without having attacked or cast spells or used abilities which targeted unwilling creatures turn invisible until they break this requirement or their concentration ends.
Bower Action: Interloper Polymorph: The next non-attuned creature to attack or cast a spell which includes an unwilling attuned creature is polymorphed (per the spell; DC 14 saving throw) into a CR 0 beast.
Bower Action: Interloper Confusion: All non-attuned creatures are subject to the confusion spell (DC 14).
Bower Action: Interloper Geas: The next non-attuned creature to kill an attuned creature (via an attack or a spell) is subject to a geas: the next attuned creature to see them can see their crime and pronounce the geas, as though they were the caster.
Level 5 bower
A treant is a sort of shepherd of trees, able to awaken them to their call. When treants hold their councils in areas of old magic, those trees never fully return to sleep, and the treants themselves find a magic of a different tempo flowing like sap through their roots.
Sign: Faces: Trees, even unawake trees in the area, ape life. They watch, and they listen, and they consider. The boles of trees form humanoid faces and seem to change expressions at a geological pace.
Trait: Listening Leaves: Attuned creatures speak with plants continuously, and the plants in the bower are terrible gossips.
Trait: Fey Treants: Plant creatures attuned to the grove are considered fey creatures instead.
Trait: Cycle of Seasons: Attuned creatures gain one of the following traits, depending on local season and climate:
Trait: Spring Quickening:
Damage Resistance: fire (or, if the creature had vulnerability, it is simply canceled out)
Spring attack: Attuned creatures may use a bonus action each round to dash or withdraw while in the bower. Taking cold damage suppresses this trait for one round.
Trait: Summer Bounty: Attuned creatures have regeneration 15 while in the bower. Taking a critical hit from a slashing weapon or any amount of cold damage suppresses this trait for one round.
Trait: Autumn Grandeur: Attuned creatures have a charming or frightening gaze, chosen when they acquire this trait. Both work the same way: A DC 15 Wisdom saving throw the first time the first time each round a victim sees a creature with this trait within the bower; failure imposes the named condition until the beginning of the creature’s next turn, and subsequent sightings within the same round simply inflict the indicated condition. This trait is suppressed on any attuned creature which is not at full hit points.
Trait: Grim Winter: Attuned creatures gain two properties:
Damage Resistance: cold, necrotic, poison
Winter Fortitude: Attuned creatures that are reduced to 0 hit points may make a Constitution saving throw, DC 10 or half the damage taken (whichever is higher). If this saving throw succeeds, they have 1 hit point. This trait is suppressed if the creature leaves the bower or takes fire damage.
Level 3 bower
Trolls that dwell at crossroads, at bridges, at liminal spaces find themselves with a steady diet of travelers. When that crossroads includes a fey crossing, their diet likely includes a hearty helping of fairy animals, sprites, and fey goblins. The magico-ecological damage this deals scars the area with angry fey magic seeking a target — and the troll is, perversely, immune.
Sign: Itty Bitty Bones: The bridge is likely littered with the gnawed carcasses and cavalierly plucked wings of previous meals.
Sign: Despairing Laughter: Though there are no visual changes, the area is hushed. There is little insect life, and the occasional sounds of a dirge, broken laughter, or sobbing can be heard far off.
Trait: The Limit of Genius: Unattuned creatures in the bower are punished for trying to lie or outwit attuned creatures. An unattuned creature making a Charisma (Deception) check or any Intelligence check has disadvantage on the check and takes 1d12 psychic damage if either roll fails — 4d12 psychic if both do. They hear mocking laughter as they take the damage.
Trait: The Limit of Skill: Unattuned creatures in the bower are punished for trying to hide from attuned creatures. An unattuned creature making a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics, Stealth) check or becoming invisible takes 1d12 psychic damage at the beginning of each round until they leave the area or else make obvious their position and apologize, loudly (they feel the urge to do this the entire time). It is a feeling not unlike having a juicy secret, but deadlier.
Trait: The Triumph of Brawn: All strength based melee weapon attacks (attuned or unattuned) made in the bower deal half-damage on misses.