The forest and meadow might seem like an unusual place for adventure and danger. The words bring to mind the images of bucolic places ranging from the glens in Sleeping Beauty to the alpine meadows in The Sound of Music. But remember the forest and meadow (an interface wne between two vastly different kinds of terrain) is one of the most common areas in the natural world, and much possibility arises.
Depending on the climate and current weather conditions, the forest and meadow may be a warm, inviting place to sleep, harvest natural materials and set up camp, or a cold and barren place beset by snow or rain, with the possible presence of enemies hidden in the tree line.
A prime location for camping, the forest and meadow makes an ideal spot with open terrain to erect tents and graze animals with a plentiful supply of wood for fires and structure building. Survival rolls receive a +5 or higher bonus during warm seasons, and cold weather has little penalty (if the camper is properly prepared). Finding food is an Easy to Moderate survival task (again depending on season), with often hunting and fishing opportunities plentiful.
Establishing a line of defense just inside a forest overlooking a meadow can net several powerful advantages as the trees provide significant cover and concealment for the defenders who overlook the open area. Of course, if the defenders are taking artillery fire from cannons, this cover may be somewhat negligible as shells hitting the trees will spray wood splinters and blown-off sections upon defenders (watch the movie Band of Brothers to see the effects of modern artillery on an entrenched unit in a forest), causing 1D or more in damage. In less modern settings, tree lines can provide cover for riflemen in dispersed patterns or even those readying for melee combat. The trees tend to disperse neat formations, however, perfect for some defenders looking to lure highly disciplined units into personal combat. Of course, those formations may simply wait in the meadow and pepper their enemy with missile fire in the hopes of driving them into the open (see the movie Gladiator for a scene where a Roman army flushes barbarians from the woods).
Natural dangers include flash floods (as water from higher elevations will take the path of least resistance and flow through a meadow), dangerous weather, grass fires in dry seasons, forest fires, and animal or stinging insect attacks.
Very generally, the meadow provides no cover unless it is rolling or somewhat hilly. Tall grasses and old logs may provide decent concealment (+6 cover modifier). The forest’s trees average scale 8 (as large as scale 20 for some old-growth trees), with Toughness ranging from 2D to 8D and providing full cover to beings of Human size or smaller. (Some large trees offer greater protection to bigger characters.) Of course, unless there has been wet weather, forests are easily lit on fire due to the plentiful supply of dry underbrush, twigs, and the like.
Don’t Miss …
The woods surrounding the Forked Glen meadow are thick and heavy, full of old logs and dense undergrowth, which cut travel speed by 75%. Thus, the only real option is to stay on the two trails that enter the glen. From the west, the trail cuts directly to the heart of the area, with the remains of a campfire nearby. (Depending on how soon after the previous occupants left that the new visitors arrive, the characters might be able to make an investigation or survival roll to determine when the fire was put out. The further in the past it was created, the more difficult the character has in figuring out when the campfire was extinguished.) Under one of the campfire rocks is concealed a small weapon or clue.
The meadow itself has call grasses, providing easy concealment for a lurking enemy. The nearby pool is surprisingly deep and cold, and it could serve as the sight of a drowning or hiding place for an aquatic enemy.
The north most trail enters over a ford, which features moss- slimed stones and a potentially nasty fall when crossing (+10 to running difficulty; 3D damage from fall if the character fails the roll with a Critical Failure and loses his next few actions getting out of the scream). The stream chat exits from a dark, dank cave nearby feeds the steam and the pool.
+ Sticks chat wind has ripped off of trees, rang- ing from hand-length twigs to arm-length branches
+ Bushes filled with berries (poisonous red or white baneberry or daphene or red chokeberry; edible blueberries, raspberries, or chimbleberries; etc.)
+ Clumps of poison ivy, identified by its oddly shaped, five-lobed leaves (+5 to all difficulties for 1D days if a character couches the plane; increase the difficulty modifier and length of time for pro- longed exposure)
+ Moss-covered rocks
+ Animal footprints
+ Tall grass in an open meadow
+ 1l1ick, spongy blanket of fallen leaves or needles within a forest
+ Acorns, chestnuts, or pinecones scattered underfoot
People to Meet
Most commonly, characters won’t meet anyone in a forest or meadow. Rather, they’ll run across squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and birds, with the occasional fox, deer, wolf, bear, or mountain lion. Use the game characteristics for rats (under the “Cavern” entry) for small animals; the game characteristics for horses for deer, the game characteristics for dogs for wolves and foxes, and d1e game characteristics of large cats for mountain lions. See the “Zoo” entry for details on the bear.
This semi-intelligent giant mass of fungal growth could be of alien or occult origin. It lives primarily underground, with a few cleverly disguised holes to che surface, intended to suck in whomever steps on chem . As soon as the fungus is couched, it tries to take over its victim’s mind, lulling it into a dreamtate to die of starvation and slow digestion by the mass. Whenever something out of place occurs in the dream, the victim may make a roll to break free from the fungus’s mind grip. Once free, the character must tear her way to the surface.
Psychic Fungus: Reflexes lD, brawling 3D, Coordination 1D, throwing 4D, Physique 4D, lifting 4D+2, Knowledge 1D, Perception 1D, Presence 1D, persuasion 6D, willpower 4D, Psionics 4D, telepathy: mind control 4D+1. Move: 2 (burrowing). Strength Damage: 2D. Body Points: 17. Wound levels: 3. Disadvantages: Hindrance: Atypical Movement (R1), burrowing only; Hindrance: Slow Movement (R4), -8 meters to base Move.
This person has carefully hidden himself amidst the foliage and makes a fearsome foe during a war scenario in a forest and meadow or to portray the nutcase living in the woods.
Hidden Sniper: Reflexes 2D+1 , brawling 4D, sneak 6D, Coordination 2D+2, marksmanship 6D, throwing 4D, Physique 2D+2, running 6D, Knowledge 2D, Perception 2D, hide 5D, Presence 2D, willpower 4D. Move: 1D. Strength Damage: 2D. Body Points: 20. Wound levels: 3. Disadvantages: Sense of Duty (R3), totally committed to the kill Equipment: sniper rifle (damage 6D+1; ammo 1; range 40/70/130; must be reloaded each shot); 20 rounds ammo; knife (damage +1D); camouflage clothing (+1D to hide).
Things to Do
+ The players’ character have just entered town and overhear a frantic conversation between a local mother and the town sheriff. It seems her two sons, off to play in the state forest near their home, have not returned. The danger is heightened when the superstitious old woman complains the boys didn’t say a good-night prayer to Mr. Frost. The characters then must learn the dark ghost story of Mr. Frost and the mother’s family’s complicity in this tale of sorrow and revenge. Can the characters uncover the truth about Mr. Frost? Or will the townsfolk’s shame and fear of outsiders prevent rescue of the two young lads? Perhaps the cave of Forked Glen contains the remains of Mr. Frost and now houses the two boys – or perhaps he was drowned in the pool. Simply getting to the glen while daylight remains will be difficult, and the fearful sheriff and his three deputies are oddly reluctant to do anything until state troopers arrive as backup.
A Sense of Serenity
Game Masters can rely on forest and meadow areas to lure players into complacency if the area is described as peaceable and inviting. But perhaps the entire meadow houses the under- ground presence of a carnivorous fungal colony that beguiles its prey with psychedelic spores? Perhaps a section of the tree line is actually a carefully camouflaged bunker complex that the characters blithely walk toward as machine guns track their approach? Maybe strange magic is at play, and the meadow touches other realities, other places – changing the air, water, soil and animals to something else.