Falchos and Tiressia
This quest starts - and takes place entirely within - the Swamp Witch’s Hut area. You can start this quest by talking to Falchos and Tiressia, who can be found in the northeastern corner of the area. Chat with them and you can learn some interesting things about the area, like the fate of the village that used to stand here… A good warning to avoid mingling with fey creatures, if the Guardian of the Bloom hadn’t already taught you that. Tiressia will also tell you about the daughter born by such a union, Elga Verniex. Something to keep in mind for later, no doubt.
Assuming you avoid the temptation to just murder these two fey outright (a [Chaotic Evil] act which will only net you some experience and a Chainshirt +1), engage in dialogue with them. Be sure to pick the dialogue options “What happened to the village?” followed by “A girl from the village married a dryad?”, as this will unlock more dialogue options later on. As for more immediate concerns, pick the dialogue option “What were you arguing about?” to pry into their business. Apparently the Scythe-Tree Tiressia mentioned earlier - the one that used to be Callistropsia before she turned on friend and fey alike - now threatens Tiressia. Falchos isn’t inclined to let this stand, but neither does he have the power to prevail. This is where you come in.
If you pick the [Neutral Evil] option, the untrustworthy fey will try to charm you [Will DC 26]. If you fail, you’ll be forced to pick one of several dialogue options agreeing to help them, after which you’ll be transported to the site of the Scythe-Tree and thrown into combat, while if you succeed, the miffed Satyr will attack. This is not a quest you want to miss out on, nor is the Scythe-Tree a foe you want to fight unprepared. The same outcome will occur if you pick the dialogue option “Maybe I could help… depending on what you’re offering” followed by “I won’t risk my life for such a meager reward.”
Opting out entirely isn’t ideal, but you can convince Falchos to abandon the Dryad by passing a [Diplomacy 20] check, which is also a [Chaotic Neutral] action. As a way of thanks the Dryad will give you 500 GP. Alternatively, you can either demand a reward (“Maybe I could help… depending on what you’re offering” followed by “Fine, I will help you.”) or be selfless and pick the [Lawful Good] option. These last two options start the quest Gnarled Branches.
Since the alternatives are ignoring Falchos/Tiressia, killing them, or getting forced into a fight with the Scythe-Tree unprepared, you might as well pick a course that accepts the quest and allows you to fight the Scythe-Tree on your own terms. Whether you pick the [Lawful Good] option or extort a reward from Tiressia is up to you.
Once started, the only way to resolve this quest is to defeat the Scythe-Tree which lurks in the southeastern corner of the area. While it’s strong enough on its own, what makes it truly dangerous is the poisonous mist surrounding it; you’ll take attribute damage each round you remain in the mist and for a few rounds thereafter, making it a significant hindrance to further exploration. The poison mist’s coverage isn’t complete, however, and you should be able to spot three distinct paths through the mist which you can navigate single-file. Suffice to say, this isn’t an ideal formation for combat.
Charging through poison to engage the tree probably isn’t the wisest idea, and neither is limiting your attack by sticking to the few avenues free of mist. Once again, it’ll be buffs that turn this from a challenging fight to an utter rout - that and perhaps a bit of strategy on your part. There are two ways of going about this, either lure the Scythe-Tree to you, or protect yourself from the poison.
In the former case, this can be done by taking Octavia (or any other mage) and heading through the southeastern fog-free path until you spot the Scythe-Tree. Keep the rest of your party well back, with plenty of room between them and the fog. When your mage spots the Scythe-Tree, hit it with Acid Splash, and when it advances, retreat. Continue pelting it with Acid Splash until it’s been lured clear of the fog, then surround it and cut it down.
If you prefer a more aggressive approach, have your Cleric prepare several Delay Poison spells (or Delay Poison, Communal) - one for each warrior you plan to send into the mist. This 2nd level spell will mitigate the effects of poison for the spell’s duration, and since that duration is measured in hours, you’ll be well clear of the poison mist before the effects kick in. Simply buff up your party and send them on the attack.
Either way you go about engaging the Scythe-Tree, the normal buffs work fine here, and with the fog neutralized, the Scythe-Tree isn’t too terrible of an opponent. It attacks fast and hits hard, but its Attack bonus isn’t high enough to render your tanks moot, like the Greater Enraged Owlbears. It can inflict Negative Energy Levels when it hits, however, which is a status effect whose antiquity is rivaled only by how obnoxious it is. Still, if you buff with Blur, Shield of Faith, Delay Poison and Haste, then start the fight out by hitting the Scythe Tree with a Slow spell, you should chop it down with terrifying speed.
Speaking of chopping the Scythe-Tree down, one last note - the Scythe Tree has Damage Reduction against piercing and bludgeoning attacks, so be sure you’re using slashing weapons. This should pretty much be the default for Amiri, Valerie and Jaethal if you kept them with their default weapons, but if not… well, Trollreaper will work just as well against this tree as it will against Trolls. Bows are right out, of course, even though the double Web strategy otherwise shows some promise.
Cut down the Scythe-Tree, then loot it to obtain an Ancient Wedding Ring and Nyta’s Letter, the last remnants of what should have been a merry occasion gone horribly wrong. More treasure awaits on various corpses in the mist, but aside from a Potion of Owl’s Wisdom, a Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds and a Wand of Burning Arc, there’s very little noteworthy loot. Finally, loot a pile of rocks near one of the corpses (the one with the wand) to obtain a Token of the Dryad and the Cypress Queen’s Flower.
Return to Falchos and Tiressia
With that, your business with the Scythe-Tree should be finished so simply return to Falchos and Tiressia and tell them the news. If you didn’t ask for a reward, you’ll merely get experience, but if you did request a reward, you’ll earn 800 GP as well.
|Reward: For defeating the Scythe-Tree|
|450 XP, 800 GP*|
*Only if you demanded a reward for defeating the Scythe-Tree.
Show them the coin with Callitropsia’s name on it and you’ll also unlock the project Research into the Nature of Curses: The Scythe Tree. Something to keep in mind when you’re back in your own territory.