As your party wanders out in the wilds between major story points, have them come across a chapel, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees, looking abandoned and reclaimed by nature. As you near the chapel, a woman clad in a burlap sack that’s been fashioned into a religious acolyte’s robe will peek out from between the doors to greet you. As she does so, you will hear the sound of music and choral singing behind her.
Unlike the typical “crazed cultist”, she will be warm, sweet, and seemingly normal, welcoming you inside for the service. When asked about what gods are worshipped at this site, she will simply say that they are celebrating all gods, creatures, and spirits that wander this beautiful natural world.
If your party decides to join the service, they will be given leis to wear. As each character crosses the threshold of the doorframe, have them them roll a wisdom saving throw with a spell save DC of 20.
Those who fail the save will be hit by a wall of sweet-smelling pollen and instantly feel their spirits lifted into a euphoric state. Looking around, they will see a typical service underway, with a small choir of people in burlap singing joyously up front near a modest altar. The pews are sparsely populated with men, women, and children, all smiling warmly and singing. The walls are covered with vines, blooming with beautiful flowers. As the party sits, they will feel surrounded by a gentle warmth. Those who failed their saving throws will also feel themselves involuntarily begin to tap their toes and hum along to the music.
The party members who succeeded their wisdom saving throw will be greeted with the same happy, serene scene, but they will not have that same euphoric “lifted” feeling inside them (although they can certainly still enjoy the music, especially if there’s a bard amongst them).
If the party attempts insight/investigation checks and succeed (DC 25 for those who are already charmed and a DC 12 for those who succeeded the earlier wisdom save), they will notice a couple of suspicious things:
- If the party member wants to study the room in general, they will notice that the air is thick with a golden pollen and that the floorboards are vibrating beneath their feet.
- If the party member wants to study the “people”, they will notice that they aren’t really people at all but, rather, life-size puppets being held up and manipulated by thick vines coming up through the floorboards.
After the hymn is concluded, a “priest” clad in burlap will stand and invite the newcomers to complete a purifying baptism, thereby lifting their spirits from the pit of despair. The altar will be slid to the side, revealing a pool of what looks like sparkling, effervescent water.
Every party member who has been enchanted by the pollen, will eagerly stand and walk up to form a line to be baptized, one at a time.
If it wasn’t obvious by now, this pool is not filled with baptisimal water. Rather, it is the gullet of a giant pitcher plant that’s growing beneath the chapel floor and apparently carrying on a very elaborate charade to attract victims. Stepping into the water will inflict 4d10 of acid bath damage and shock the character out of its charmed state. The others who are charmed will not be deterred by observing this frightening display because they are still filled with feelings of euphoria. They will only have their own charms broken when they too complete the baptism or when they are dealt damage in some other way.
Striking out at any of the burlap “puppets” will trigger the battle with the man-eating pitcher plant. The floor boards of the chapel will begin to break apart and separate, revealing large, thick petals that make getting one’s footing difficult.
The giant pitcher plant is a fierce foe and will primarily use its tendrils to strike/grapple foes. This could be a frightening but also ridiculous battle because, in essence, you’re fighting a predatory plant’s collection of finger puppets. This means that being grappled by a tendril will look like a smiling burlap nun holding you in an tight embrace.
To defeat the plant quickly, your party could try to strike the plant from inside its acidic pitcher (risking rounds of 4d10 acid bath damage). Alternatively, they could strike down every tendril puppet. Once the entire congregation has been slain (that felt uncomfortable to type), the pitcher plant will decide to retreat, taking two turns to completely close up its petals and totally breaking apart the church resting atop it in the process. The two turns are given so the party can leap off the plant before they too are swallowed up. Once the pod has sealed itself, it will burrow away.
If you want a more traditional encounter with this monster, consider the following stat sheet for a similar creature:
Surviving this encounter will leave behind a slew of burlap puppet people and severed vines. If you have a druid amongst your party members, they can choose to take leaf/vine cuttings from the remains to concoct a couple “Philters of Love” (charming potions).