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The Gardener

Medium ravager (sublime), chaotic evil or chaotic neutral

Armor Class 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 304 (32d8 + 160); Wound Threshold 76
Speed 40 ft. (50 ft. with longstrider)

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
16 (+3) 18 (+4) 20 (+5) 18 (+4) 22 (+6) 15 (+2)

Saving Throws Dex +10, Wis +12, Cha +8 Skills Animal Handling +12, Arcana +10, Medicine +12, Nature* +16, Perception +12, Survival +1
Tools farmer’s tools (expertise), herbalism kit (expertise), leatherworker’s tools, woodcarver’s tools
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, stunned
Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 22
Languages Common, Druidic, Elvish, Phantasm, Primordial, Sylvan, Undercommon
Challenge 20 (25,000 XP)

SPECIAL TRAITS

  • Feral Instinct. The Gardener has advantage on initiative rolls.
  • Swift. The Gardener can take two reactions per round.
  • Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the Gardener fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.
  • Spellcasting. The Gardener is a 20th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 20, +12 to hit with spell attacks). The Gardener knows the following druid spells:

    ACTIONS

    • Multiattack. The Gardener makes three staff attacks.
    • Staff. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit (+12 to hit with shillelagh), reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 +3) bludgeoning damage, 12 (2d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage when wielded with both hands, or 16 (2d8 + 6) bludgeoning damage with shillelagh.
    • Sublime Bines (1/Day). An eruption of thorny, corrupted brambles occurs in a 120-foot radius around the Gardener. Each creature that is not a ravager and is caught in that area must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw, taking 28 (8d6) necrotic damage plus 18 (4d8) poison damage plus 22 (4d10) piercing damage on a failure, or half as much damage on a success. The area affected by the Sublime Bines becomes transcended until the plants die.

    BONUS ACTIONS

    • Call Minions (1/Day). The Gardener summons 1d6 sublime ravagers (CR 4 to 5); 2d6 sublime ravagers (CR 2 to 3); or 4d6 sublime ravagers (CR 1 or less). The called creatures arrive in 1d4 rounds, acting as allies of the Gardener and following its commands. They remain for 1 hour or until the Gardener dismisses them as a bonus action.

    REACTIONS

    • Ironbark. When it takes damage from an attack, the Gardener can reduce it by half. In addition, its Speed drops by 5 ft. on the next turn.

    LEGENDARY ACTIONS

    The Gardener can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The Gardener regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

    • Cantrip. The Gardener casts a cantrip.
    • Galvanize. The Gardener gains 20 temporary hit points.
    • Healing Touch. The Gardener touches creature other than itself. The target magically regains 16 (2d8 + 7) hp and is rid of poison and disease. The target can make a DC 20 Charisma saving throw to avoid this effect. Otherwise, the creature is exposed to sublimation (see Introduction).
    • Roots (Costs 2 Actions). The Gardener chooses a creature in a 60-foot radius that it can see. The creature must make a DC 20 Strength saving throw or be wrapped in roots and restrained until the end of its next turn.
    • Spellcasting (Costs 2 Actions). The Gardener casts a 6th level or less spell from its list of prepared spells, using a spell slot as normal.
    • Staff. The Gardener makes one staff attack.

    LAIR

    Under the influence of the Gardener, the places it inhabits look like oases of disturbing life, filled with giant, double-jawed reptiles, beasts that merge with roots or flowers, humanoid corpses turning into statues of gnarled branches… The boundaries between life forms are erased to allow the existence of impossible creatures.

    The Gardener’s Lair remains after its departure. Therefore, one can visit the territory and discover that its master has left in search of a new domain, far from here. After a period of a few months to a few years, the Gardener’s primary influence wanes. The territory remains under the Sublime’s sway; however, all effects specifically tied to the Gardener disappear.

    Inside its lair, the Gardener can take a lair action on initiative count 20 (losing all initiative ties).

    • Life Burst. All creatures within 60 feet of the Gardener magically regain 20 (3d8 + 7) hp. Each creature can make a DC 20 Charisma saving throw to avoid this effect. Otherwise, the creature is exposed to sublimation (see Introduction).
    • Mighty Blows. Until its next lair action, the Gardener’s staff attacks deal an extra 9 (2d8) damage.
    • Regression. The Gardener chooses a creature that it can see. The creature must succeed on a DC 20 Intelligence saving throw or suffer the effect of the feeblemind spell until the beginning of the next turn.
    • Vital Resilience. Until its next lair action, the Gardener gains immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical attacks, as well as to one type of damage of its choice with the exception of radiant damage.

    REGIONAL EFFECTS

    The very nature of the places influenced by the Gardener leads to the appearance of mutations: for several miles water, food, and even air are suffused with the transformative energy of Canker in its sublime aspect.

    • Memory Tampering. While in the Gardener’s lair, creatures have great difficulty keeping their thoughts in order. The atmosphere is heady, exhilarating, almost delirious, imposing Disadvantage on Intelligence checks to remember something. The leader may also apply the Playing Memory Tampering option to reflect the adventurers’ confusion and loss of focus.
    • Proliferating Nature. Vegetation is ubiquitous throughout much of the Gardener’s lair. Adventurers will often find themselves in difficult terrain, with the powerful smells, natural cacophony, and cluttered topography imposing Disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks.
    • Vivification of Death. With the exception of hunting, the unnatural killing of a creature (combat, accident) results in the immediate transformation of the corpse into a plant resembling the deceased. Here, the Gardener’s enemies become topiaries in its garden. A creature transformed this way cannot be magically brought back to life.

    ABOUT

    The Gardener his being somewhat resembles a wild, savage, and contemplative druid. However, details of its appearance change as it wanders and creates strange gardens in the Netherworld and on the surface.

    The earliest evidence of the Gardener’s existence dates back about a millennium, in territories beneath Lothrienne. As its nickname suggests, this powerful ravager is particularly interested in sites lush with greenery, preferably maelossas. It is fascinated by life, which it enthusiastically helps spread; but his contribution is corrupt, a proliferating, unbridled growth, the embodiment of Canker. Nature seems entirely unrestrained as it frantically grows and mounds, with heaps of plants growing on the putrefied bed of their rotting predecessors, again and again. The Gardener knows no limits in its search for ever more lush and inordinate fauna and flora.

    Traces of the Gardener’s existence can be found all over the Netherworld. This character can be used as a campaign backdrop, the sort of being whose name keeps coming up but who is never seen. This powerful ravager has traveled extensively under Cyfandir, taking its time to observe and create sublime gardens before moving on. Each creation is unique and spreads sublimation all around. Followers of the Scarlet Shroud zanrolem are very interested in the Gardener’s transformation from Cankerous prince to Sublime prince. Some interpret it as a path of salvation to the wonders of the world to come.

    According to legend, the Gardener was once a druid determined to defend a Netherworld maelossa under Lothrienne, northeast of the Oldstones. Today, the place may be known as Hrynja-a name hinting at the notion of collapse.

    Ravagers were besieging its domain, and all hope was lost. For the most part, enrooted fey and their allies had fled through Eana’s roots before they were eaten, sliced, or rotted. At that point, death was the only salvation for the rearguard defenders. By then, the druid may have tried to die by fusing with Eana through the casting of a destructive spell called “supreme osmosis.” Unfortunately, Hrynja was so permeated with Canker’s essence that the druid was instantly consumed, soon to be reborn under a new form: the Gardener.

    For a time, the Gardener was a Cankerous prince in its own right. Sources differ on how long exactly, but I suspect it was a few decades at most. The erstwhile druid tended to ravager nests and destroyed underground oases. It never fully completed its conquests, and its enemies took advantage of its flawed strategies. Perhaps it was incompetent; perhaps its foes were brilliant. Or perhaps it was acting minimally in accordance with its nature.

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