10 Strange, Atypical or Noteworthy Trees

Trees grow all over the place. Woods and forests cluster ever inwards upon civilisation. The vast majority of trees are unremarkable and are used as fuel or building materials for the local folk. Others, however, are remarkable.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

 

Some trees because of their sheer size, legends ascribed to them or the uses they are put to loom large (metaphorically or physically) over the locality. Used as local landmarks, boundary markers or meeting places they are integral parts of the community and landscape.

Use the table below, to generate the details of notable or remarkable trees encountered by the party.

  1. Lightning struck this huge oak tree decades ago. Much of the tree burnt and the oak’s mighty trunk was torn asunder. Now all that remains is a splintered shard of trunk about 20 feet high. Blackened and scorched, the trunk is hollow and sometimes used as a hiding place.
  2. Standing atop a high hill, and surrounded by lesser growths, this tree comprises the interwoven trunks and branches of seventeen distinct individual trees. Known locally as the Seventeen Sisters, the “tree” is fully forty-foot long.
  3. This huge weeping willow stands upon a small, low island in the middle of a lake. Its boughs drop down to caress the water’s surface, completely obscuring the island from sight.
  4. The face of a grimacing man has been carved deeply into the trunk of this living oak. Moss grows thickly over the face and the carving is so old, time and the elements have blurred its lines. Locals refer to the tree as “the Old Man” and ascribe it various supernatural powers.
  5. The clutching, skeletal branches of this leafless tree stand stark against the horizon. The sun’s rays paint disturbing shadows upon the barren ground surrounding the tree. Sometimes the shadows seem to move independent of the branches swaying in the breeze.
  6. Several long hangman’s nooses hang from the high branches of this large, old tree. From these nooses, sway three mouldering, decomposing corpses. Birds peck and tear at the corpses, but fly away if anyone get close to the tree. The ground surrounding the tree is churned to mud—as if many people had tramped through the area relatively recently.
  7. This immense tree stands in the centre of a desolate clearing. No plants grow nearby and the tree itself never bears fruit or leaves. Although it appears to all intents and purposes dead, the tree’s trunk is yet sturdy.
  8. This huge tree grows upon the edge of a steep bank overlooking the trail. Its thick, writhing roots have burst through the bank before burrowing back into the packed earth of the trail. To the paranoid or imaginative the roots look like a mass of petrified serpents.
  9. This tree is immense; its trunk is easily forty-foot in diameter at ground level. The tree stands atop a rocky outcrop and someone has carved a doorway into its base. A stair leads up into the tree proper.
  10. The blackened stump of this tree rises to about eight feet in height before ending in a jagged shard of wood. The tree glimmers strangely in direct light and on closer examination the PCs discover literally thousands of coins hammered into natural folds running through its bark. Some of the coins are tremendously weathered, which suggests they have been here for decades or even longer.

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This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017. For more, check out our Free Resources page.

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