The Lonesome Road
|Hit Dice:||18, Cl 12|
|No. of Attacks:||13|
|Special Attacks:||By weapon|
|Magic Resistance:||Spells, elemental resistance, protected from animals|
|Morale:||M (4’ tall)|
What are the thoughts of a forest choked by corruption? The anguish of wilderness seeped in the filth of evil? Only the leshii know.
Malicious forest denizens, the leshii haunt the darkest wilds of the central Core. The stories of these sadistic creatures are as varied as the actual encounters. The end result is usually a grim, horrible death for those for those that dare to invade a leshii’s domain.
Leshii (the term is both singular and plural) appear as spry little old men, standing about four feet tall. A leshii’s skin is a waxy white color, which contrasts oddly with its startling, emerald-green eyes. Their tangled, matted hair appears to be made of living moss and vines, as does the creature’s beard. Leshii wear beautiful clothing constructed out of vegetable materials, such as leaves, vines, roots, reeds, bark and so forth.
Leshii usually speak Balok or another language common to the region they inhabit. They always speak human tongues with an unusual, creaky accent. They can communicate telepathically with any natural animal or plant. Many leshii have forgotten more obscure woodland tongues than most mortals could ever learn.
Combat: Leshii dislike direct, honorable combat. They are masters of hit-and-run tactics, preferring to whittle down their opponents’ strength from afar using magic, separating groups if possible. Their black sense of humor sometimes gets the better of them, however, resulting in traps and tricks that are perhaps more elaborate than they need to be.
Leshii have no natural weapons, and avoid melee if at all possible. They usually carry some sort of convenient, wooden weapon on their person, such as a dagger (1d4 damage) or cudgel (1d6). Leshii can cast spells as a 12th-level priest from the spheres of Animal, Plant, and Weather. No prayers are required for leshii to receive these spells. They receive a full complement of spells – six 1st-level, five 2nd-level, five 3rd-level, three 4th-level, two 5th-level, and two 6th-level – each day at sunrise. Leshii use verbal, somatic, and material components for their spells as normal, but their material components are often naturalistic substitutions (that nonetheless work normally).
Leshii are utterly immune to damage from heat, fire, and electricity (whether mundane or magical). They are also immune to damage and other adversarial effects from plant-based spells. For example, the grasping vines and roots of an entangle spell would simply refuse to touch a leshii (though other creatures in the area of effect might be affected), while a leshii could pass through a wall of thorns as if it were mere underbrush. Leshii do not, however, negate spells that are not meant to directly damage or hinder them, such as barkskin.
Natural animals are incapable of attacking a leshii. Trained pets and beasts of burden – including summoned animals and a ranger’s animal followers – will ignore their masters’ commands to attack. They will not flee, but will stand their ground nervously, refusing to harm the leshii in any way. Only animals under the direct control of a domain lord may freely attack a leshii.
A leshii hiding in a forest environment is effectively invisible until it makes its presence known. Leshii can use pass without trace at will, and can climb through trees as fast as a normal man can move on foot.
Habitat/Society: Leshii dwell in the wildest forest regions of the central Core, particularly Balok-speaking kingdoms, such as Barovia, Borca, Invidia, and Falkovnia. They construct no permanent abodes, sleeping in trees or inside moss-covered logs. They spend their time idly, delighting in the eerie splendors of the Demiplane’s forests. Leshii enjoy the company of animals, but natural creatures will never approach them unless magically compelled. The reaction from such animals is not so much hostile as it is nervous and spooked.
The only diversion that leshii indulge in is the wanton murder of forest interlopers, particularly hunters and lumberjacks. The sadistic glee they exhibit in taking human life is chilling to say the least, with an uncanny resemblance to the cruel torture of insects by young boys. Leshii are skilled in ventriloquism and forest traps, and use such methods to their advantage when misleading and ambushing travelers. They bide their time, observing their prey and spooking them with eerie sounds. Rarely do leshii deliver the death blow themselves, preferring to utilize summoned animals, dangerous plants, and even hazardous weather to their advantage. One of their favorite tactics is to lure or drive mortals to a particularly dangerous spot, such as a wolf den, patch of choke creepers, or quicksand pit, and just watch the fun.
Nothing is known about how leshii interact or reproduce, as more than one leshii has never been spotted simultaneously. The creatures seem to distribute themselves thinly and evenly, so that their ranges never overlap. Although tales often speculate otherwise, no female leshii have been observed. Although leshii have persisted in Balok legends for as long as most folk can remember, the number of deaths attributed to them have been increasing steadily since about Barovian Year 730. One of the more interesting theories some sages have put forward is that a wave of leshii may have migrated to the Core twenty years ago from a distant land known colloquially as the Valley of Eternal Winter. In that frigid kingdom, spring has not come for nearly twenty years, and the leshii in the region, enraged and frightened, left their snowy home in search of greener pasture, as it were.
Some folk have observed the similarities between the legendary Green Man of the Core (see the Kargatane Netbook, The Forgotten Children) and the leshii. Indeed, the Green Man may be some kind of eminent leshii, or perhaps their progenitor.
Ecology: Leshii appear to interact with their forest environment in a relatively peaceful, low-impact manner. They do not associate with evil creatures that seek to destroy natural forests. This is somewhat surprising, considering their dark natures. Barovian leshii are known to be on friendly terms with the muma padura. Like most living creatures, Leshii must breathe, sleep, eat and drink. They prefer to dine on fruits, tubers, nuts, and other vegetable flesh, but occasionally hunt small forest animals for their meat. Leshii seem to be immortal, or at least very long-lived.
The Lonesome Road
Last Modified: January 28, 2014, 21:59:01 GMT
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