Groaning Willow – Chapter 7, Act 4, Strip 51

Having reached the tree, the party’s next challenge is making their way inside, into the twisting hollows described by the Elder.

K’ip’s first assumption is well-founded, actually – a very cleverly hidden entrance would make perfect sense in this situation. After all of this fighting, then running, you would want to throw your players an intellectual challenge just for variety. With the added boon that it would give something to do to those party members who aren’t any good at either running or fighting, like the halfling rogue. >_>

Had the script gone down that well-trodden route, the party would have had to spent a couple of hours tapping around on the tree trunk, twisting every branch within reach (of a human pyramid), shouting random passwords in every language they know collectively and performing interpretative dance numbers while waiting for specific phases of the moon or stellar constellations… and, basically, anything else they could think of. There’s just no limit to the way such a cleverly hidden entrance can be constructed in a fantasy setting, since pragmatic considerations (like somebody actually needing access to the inside in a hurry) can be completely disregarded.

But I went the other route, anyway, because I wanted to have those classic visuals of the bearded tree-face. Which also puts to rest the need to refer to it as the Hideyoshi tree, since if the tree clearly identifies as male, you can call it the Father Tree without any problems.*

As soon as the face is discovered, the party zeroes in on it as the only possible method of access to the insides of the tree, and rightfully so. As Mopey points out, something like that is just too bizarre to be window dressing, it just has to be connected to the quest at hand.

And since it’s some sort of magic face, the assumption that you have to open it by saying something to it seems very obvious. So, normally, it would be shouting-random-passwords time right now, but Gregory comes up with a better and quicker solution. Assuming that an agonized grimace would work as well as any other, he had the perfect horrible tree-pun for the situation – ever since he had to use up nearly all of his stock of horrible cat-puns, he’s stocked up fresh on horrible puns in all categories. And he does get the right reaction, since it’s the reaction he always gets for all of his puns and gags.

The road inside is open!

More on Thursday.

* Yeah, technically Hideyoshi also identifies as male, but since nobody ever believes him…

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