As the party stays (or drinks) at [local inn/tavern] they are approached by a man with droopy skin, sunken eyes, and clothes that are too big for his small frame. He holds a clipboard and looks at the party, spitting as he asks, “would you mind signing my petition?”
The man, who notes his name is Hugh Mann, continues to explain that the townsfolk don’t seem to care about a rare form of Yellow Musk growing in the nearby forest. Due to the overgrowth of trees in the area, the Yellow Musk shrieks and wails all day when the sun is not hitting it and all night as the moon rises. He asks the party again if they’ll sign his petition to move the Yellow Musk Creeper into town where they will have more light. “They can cling to anything and require little attention,” Hugh states, matter of factly. “Once they have sun, they’ll quiet down.
He pleads for help and cites a few more reasons why they’re harmless:
- They cling to anything, so no worries about soil or watering
- They provide a lovely fragrance that the whole town will love
- Aside from the shrieking, the yellow blooms really are beautiful
Throughout the rest of the inn or tavern, the party can attempt to persuade the townsfolk to sign the petition and help Hugh get the Yellow Musk into town. Once you’ve convinced most of the inn/tavern, Hugh will be overwhelmed with excitement and thank the party. “Oh, thank you so much, you won’t hear them coming, I mean, growing.”
As he sprints away, the party continues to note how off his skin seems. Almost like there’s a strange structure beneath, not of bone, but of some sort of vine-y composition. It’s also a slight green tinge.
Note: The following becomes a bit more fun if the party is expecting to return to that town after a quest or side quest. That gives Hugh enough time to move the Yellow Musk and really settle in with his flowery friends.
Quid Pro Whoa
Coming back to the town, or waking up the next day if the party won’t be back, they hear shrieking throughout the town. The petition for the flowers to be moved was passed, and Hugh is moving the plants into town. As he walks through shadows carrying blankets of these plants, the shriek and wail until they are back in the sun.
Hugh gets to another bright spot and lays the Yellow Musk over a wall. The shrieking subsides and Hugh presses his face against the flowers, whispering something to them.
As he walks back to the forest to get more, a male dwarf emerges from the house where the flowers were just placed. “I didn’t sign up for these damn flowers!” He kicks at the Yellow Musk which appears to recoil as it’s kicked. The man finds that curious and bends over to see what’s happening. The Yellow Musk squares up to meet the eyes of the dwarf and coughs out a scented yellow cloud. Deeply inhaling the cloud, the dwarf starts to fuss. Instead of kicking again, he looks lovingly at the plant and saunters over to run his fingers through it. The dwarf caresses the plant and rubs his face deep into the vines.
A look of fear and shock overcomes the dwarf’s face, paralyzing or killing him, and causing him to fall helplessly into the plant. It covers his body and goes back to looking like a standard vine wall of flowers.
A hooded figure around the corner can be seen scribbling something in a notebook. As Hugh comes back to adorn another wall with vines, the figure disappears. Hugh does not take notice of the lump in his pile of flowers, and continues about his business.
This time he seems to have some sort of anthropomorphic version of the Yellow Musk behind him, carrying additional blankets of vines and flowers and wearing a greatsword on his back. The two seem to speak to one another in quiet, high pitch shrieks. The larger creature snaps a look directly at the party, but says nothing and does nothing. The party must make a DC11 Wisdom save unless they have elected to hide from the creature. If they do not pass the save, they are charmed by the creature, though he does not seem interested in doing anything with any that are overtaken.
It Rubs The Lotion On Its Skin Or Else It Takes Psychic Damage Again
The party can skedaddle if they so choose, but if they stay, they will be met by a Forest Gnome Artificer name Crannibal Hecter. Crannibal is exasperated but wildly tells the party what he thinks is happening. He is, after all, the town’s leading (and only) botanist! Decades ago, he was contracted by the town to plant some of the Yellow Musk that Hugh has been replanting in the town.
In his initial studies, Crannibal planted the Yellow Musk in the middle of the town garden. It choked all the other plants out, and murdered anyone who entered to try and extract it. One night while it slept, Crannibal was able to get to the root ball and, leveraging his Artificer skills, placed it outside of town where it was unlikely to hurt or be found by anyone. That is of course until Hugh Mann began meddling in town. Crannibal notes that while Hugh may seem like a conservationist, he is actually a plant himself wearing a poorly made suit of skin harvested from a recently dead troll.
The party will likely not be surprised which saddens Crannibal to the point where he’s about to walk away. Whether stopped or on his own, he will turn back to the party and explain that it’s not just any plant. It is the Yellow Musk Creeper, a plant that is capable of killing another creature and embedding a seed of its own inside. If the creature is dead, it will awaken the next day, turned into Yellow Musk Zombie that must do its bidding.
He begs the party to stop Hugh and eliminate the flowers altogether. He offers the party an herbal lotion that the can put under their noses to assist them in battle. “It’s a nice little homebrew of hog spit, tar, bee bones, fish eyes, silver, and water.
The Same Atrocious Aftersave
However the party decides to approach the removal of the Yellow Musk, they will find themselves in the town square before they are noticed. As they are ridding the town of the plant, if they get within five feet, the plant will swipe at them, with +3 to hit. If it hits, the plant does (3d8) psychic damage. If they die from this damage, the plant will attempt to cover them (grappled essentially).
If the party elected to put the lotion beneath their noses from Crannibal, the Yellow Musk’s charming attack won’t work on the party. If they opted not to apply the lotion, they need to break a DC 11 Wisdom save or be charmed for a minute. The only thing they can do once charmed is move as close to the Yellow Musk as possible.
In the town square. Hugh will be standing with his bodyguard, marveling at all of the plants he has managed to plant across the town. Each has at least one lump within, similar to where the dwarf ended up.
If attacked, Hugh will run behind his bodyguard for protection and will generally avoid being attacked. Once he is at half his hit points, his skin will fall off, revealing a skinny and drained version of the Yellow Musk Creeper.
For the bodyguard and the plants on the walls, re-use the following stat block from Tomb of Annihilation (HP can vary):
The bodyguard will add a standard Greatsword attack (or multiattack), while Hugh casts some plant-based cantrips, nothing too crazy.
After two rounds of combat, or one depending on your parties action economy, the lumps in the plants explode, revealing Yellow Musk Creeper Zombies, in the shapes of those who were killed by the plants, but with yellow blooms emerging from their shoulders.
Once Hugh is defeated, the plants will give out one more shriek and whither away. The Yellow Musk Zombies (if any are left) hold their form, but are no longer combative.
With the battle over, Crannibal emerges from the shadows, praising the party for what they have accomplished. The town may be in shambles, but they can begin to rebuild now that the Yellow Musk is gone. If he notices a zombie he’ll walk over and kick it to ensure it’s docile.
Thanking the party again, he offers them three rewards. The first of which is additional Nature training, to add Proficiency for anyone who does not have it. The second is a small bag of dried beans which Crannibal calls Fava Fave beans. When cooked, one is enough to feed a creature for an entire week. Finally is his Potion of Chianti, which is really just some wine he was gifted by a traveling salesman, who now that he thinks about it came through and left after several missing persons reports were filed.