Travelling to the Magic Realm -- obstacles sought

I'm running a solo saga, and the player has a mage that has befriended an ancient magical Tree. The tree was recently attacked by the main antagonist in the saga, which did enough supernatural damage to drive the spirit of the Tree back to the magic realm. The spirit is now in a kind of feral form, hunkered down and just trying to recover. The character has successfully retrieved "The Seed of Memory," which the tree stowed away centuries ago to guard against this very attack.

The character is going to enter the remnants of a regio and travel to the Magic Realm in order to plant the Seed, and bring back the True Spirit of the tree.

I'm envisioning the path of the regio to be traveling along a large, hollow root. I want there to be an obstacle or two before getting to the other side.

I'm open to ideas, and turn to your fantastic brains on this matter.


Negotiate with the King of the Ants.
Root maze.
Surge of water pushing him forward.

A nice shrubbery, not too big, which must be rescued because the cat won't leave it alone. :laughing:
More seriously ...
Lots of vermin possibilities.
At one point, the path is blocked by a metal wall, which turns out to be the spade of some monstrous gardener who is trying to move the plant/kill the infestation/graft other plant paths/etc and who must be negotiated with in order to get back on a relevant path.
A section of the root has rotted for some reason, providing an exit (possibly unexpected) for the traveler or an entrance for some invading plant species, or just an unpleasant squishy section.
I misunderstood the hollow part the first time I read it, and so was originally picturing a gigantic tree with a huge exposed root structure, ala the movie "Castle in the Sky". Lots of opportunities to fall off, become lost in the root maze (as already mentioned), have a multi-level chase with others who may be looking for the seed, combat the natural defenses of the tree like entwining vines/sharp poisonous root hairs, etc.

It's the magic realm, so weird is allowed. :smiley:

Part of the root may widen into a settlement of some sort - either for ants/vermin or for lesser tree spirits. Passing the settlement requires negotiating with them or going on adventures. How much it widens could dictate how big the adventure area is - it could be a few miles across!

Having to carry sap along a root path; a test of endurance. Being waylaid along the way.

Encountering spirits of possibility that could be the tree's future. Some are benign, some are very dangerous. A corrupted tree spirit could be a terrible foe, and its defeat involves not fighting it directly but performing a task to ensure that possibility can no longer eventuate (such as getting rid of what is currently a tiny source of corruption).

Turn feral. The magus develops animal traits from the animal that most closely resembles his personality. Slowly he turns into the animal physically as well. he must fight to retain his humanity in front of the feral forces around him. Maybe more adequate for an Animal-oriented environment, though. Maybe usable if he develops a personality suitable for a tree-dwelling animal?

Riddle contest with a Sphinx AKA giant spider "Shelob style".

Deal with the pixie king (magical, not faerie; they do not care about your vitality but are territorial and you are tresspassing) so he allows you to pass through his realm.

Fight a battle with the termites that are attacking the tree that knows where your tree-friend is hiding, so that he tells you the info.

Get lost in the maze. Design a way to exit the tree labyrinth without hurting the forest (bad idea to hurt it: think Fangorn)

Mushrooms. Lots of possibilities with mushrooms.

They can be degrading the root structure, or block it by their growth, and need to removed from the path / moved through.

They can be symbiotic, so eliminating them has negative consequences on the tree. For example, they were repulsing vermins (worms, ants, whatever), or closing a hole in the roots system, preventing flooding. So the magus needs to move through without damaging them.

Another tack is to tie this up with the village in the widened root -- the mushrooms are sentient and mobile.

In any of those scenarios, they can have those weird hallucinatory properties,through their spores. Or perhaps you need to sniff their spores to be able to communicate with them, but those cannot get through his Parma so he needs to volountarily lower it.

If he does, he gets to communicate with them and complete his mission. But at some point later, he realizes that some of the spores have begun growing in his lungs. He's afflicted with the equivalent of a lung disease that reduces his stamina (not necessarily the stat), but the flegm he coughs up contain raw vis. He won't be able to contaminate another creature with it, but perhaps he can but only by transferring his own infection.

Get accused by the "Big Gardener" for trespassing/disturbing the peace of the magic garden. He brings him for trial to a court of magical plant's.

He meets his doppelgänger how tries to persuade him not to complete his task, claiming that the magical tree is a demon of some sort.

When returning from the realm he opens a canal (for a short time). The canal is used by aforementioned magical vermin that now enters the mundane world.


Great ideas, all. I am grateful.

Technical question (serf's parma): How does Parma work in the Magic Realm? If he's in the MR, where everything is pure magic, does Parma reflect everything? OR does it all penetrate, because it's all super powerful? If the tunnel floods with water from the magic realm, does this pure magical water penetrate?

The tree was torn apart by a vicious might-draining storm, and then finally sundered from the mundane realm by a massive lightning strike. So if all the tunnels are flooded from the start, this make sense in the story, and the character will have to figure out how to get through.

This could also lead to the idea of wet, mucky decay. Floor or roof caves in. And the mushrooms! (Great idea there).

Alternatively, I like the idea of a root maze. Has anyone run a maze before? I'm wondering how to turn that into a story, rather than a "get out the graph paper and draw it." And what are general defenses / rolls the character can make to get out of it? Enigmatic Wisdom? I was thinking that that a Perc + Awareness check to notice that certain tunnels are gradually getting wider. This is the way toward the "center" of the tree trunk. What other ways does one get out of a maze in game terms?

The main magical quality of the tree is Intellegence, wisdom, and memory.
The original idea I was thinking about was a pool of water that shows, well, Everything. In the entire Universe. Anyone staring into the pool is completely mesmerized. I was thinking that the character comes upon a 300 year old mage sitting by the pool, staring into the Everythingness. He is so warped by the magic, that he basically looks like a gnarled shrub. The mage turns at the approach of the PC, and the PC sees the cosmos reflected in his eyes. The mage is now an undying Oracle. The PC hopefully catches on NOT to look in the pool, and then needs to find a way across the pool. This provides a chance to ask some questions about the nature of the quest, etc. But I'm not entirely sold on the idea. (Perhaps all roads of the maze lead here? How does this turn into a challenge, if the Oracle simply can answer the question of how to get out?)

I suggest you handwave it, and treat inanimate materials as if mundane.

You could say that the old mage can protect the PC from falling into the same trap as he did.

You could also combine the maze with the memories of the mage. Each "room" (intersection of roots) yield visions of specific memories. By navigating those memories, the character gains insight into the old mage's live, including the trap he fell into with the pool. So you'd have physical and magical challenges for traversing the sections of roots, with the intersections yielding insights in the form of memory capsules (for example, how he got trapped by the pool). These could be ambiguous, some completely irrelevant to the current task, while others are very important. Failing to navigate properly (let the player come up with ideas to avoid getting lost and decide how well they work) means that the PC just comes back to memories he's seen before. If he gets stuck, help him along by way of some small outside help (mushrooms, ants, whatever) that lead him into a different direction.

The mesmerizing effect may have been the result of a failed attempt at controlling a Twilight, with the entrapment being Final Twilight for the old mage. So it would not be permanent for the PC.

Yes-- even though it's pure magic, the Parma only keeps out magical effects such as those caused by a spell or a supernatural power. Magi should be able to interact with the Realm water just like normal water.

Smurfs as shrooms. :laughing:

Indeed a possibility, if that is the tone desired. :wink:

But this can also be quite dark and twisted, like the ur-Viles in the Thomas Covenant series of books.