There’s a doc open on my computer almost every day. I’m crafting an original D&D adventure for a charity game come spring time. For that adventure I’m researching various tree-monsters. These are common in the fiction which is inspired by and that inspired Dungeons & Dragons. There’s Treants/Ents from Lord of the Rings and the Flying Forest and Sentient Trees of The Magicians.
But trees can help us with more than just monsters. They can inspire creative decisions. Look at this stand across the river.
There’s some scarring from disease, or something, several dozen feet up. Take a closer look at that.
Put your “not in the real world” hat on. What if that scaring was from a massive beast? What if the Giant Elk of this realm were so huge that their antlers (looking it up, yes elk have antlers) rubbed off that bark that’s a full 30 feet or so above the river.
What happens when a herd of them walk the river during logging season with their massive legs crushing through or between the barges? Or are these Elk the friends of your woodland dwelling elves, gnomes, goblins, or other races? Are they ridden like elephants?
The answers are up to you.
Trees are also our mighty connection to history.
Tolkien recognized that. The age of trees is why the Ents knew so much and also why they’d become peaceful and rooted. When you see so much life pass before you are the little lives so precious?
In the World of the Everflow, the Dragonleaf Trees are ancient, from the era before legends, when Dragons and the other Ken were part of the world of Kin. But they are also dying. A breed that is honored while also being forgotten. They do not seed. They do not spread. There are only twenty or so of these ancient trees left, with almost all of them in the Tree District of Qin.
When a tree is a millennia old what does that signal in your world? Are they like the trees of Solace in Krynn, with homes and workplaces scattered within the branches? Or is it a single tree from the time before time the sits alone in a desert, with roots that stretch hundreds of feet down and branches in the sky that reach to the clouds, a trade post surrounding this tree so big that it creates its own climate?
Every journey you take. Every book you read. Every show or movie you watch. Every song you here. Every social media post you scan.
They’re all inspiration for your world, your character, your dreams. Share them with your table.