I've been working on this creature with MakThuumNgatha's help. I'd like to submit it to a Creature Codex article but I'm not sure how to submit, or whether it belongs on the forum instad, and anyway I'm interested if anyone has any feedback about it first.
The Planes of Wood and Flowers I read about in the Codex of Demiplanes. Flowers is the positive energy quasi-plane attached to Wood, which may or may not be an element in the normal sense.
Concept, description, and ecology by Vaevictis Asmadi
Stats, appearance, and special abilities by MakThuumNgatha
This is intended to make an interesting and thought-provoking sort of antagonist, especially for Druids, and a lesson in the balance of nature. People often think of death as being always bad; the Tanzu demonstrate that life is never that simplistic. Druids probably spend a lot of time preventing the destruction of wildlife, but they would have to stop the Tanzu’s actions or the ecosystem would be damaged and eventually, completely collapse.
Hit dice: 8d8+40 (76hp)
Speed: 40 feet, climb 30 feet.
Armor class: 24 (-1 size, +3 Dex, +12 natural)
Base attack/grapple: +8/+16
Attack: Long spear +14 melee (2d6+7/x3) or claw +14 (1d6+5)
Full attack: Long spear +14/+9 melee (2d6+7/x3) and bite +9 (1d8+3); or 2 claws +14 (1d6+5) and bite +9 (1d8+2).
Special attacks: Aura of life, spell-like abilities, spellcasting,
Special qualities: Negative energy vulnerability (+50% damage), positive energy protection, acid resistance 10, regeneration 5, SR 16, damage reduction 5/magic.
Saves: Fort +13, Ref +9, Will +10
Abilities: Str 21 Dex 16 Con 21 Int 12 Wis 19 Cha 14
Skills: Listen +15, Spot +15, Spellcraft +12, concentration +16, Knowledge (planes, nature) +12, survival +15, hide +7 (+13 in forests), move silently +10, climb +20.
Feats: Great fortitude, combat casting, spell focus (necromancy).
Environment: Quasi-elemental Plane of Flowers
Organization: Solitary, band (2-5), or party (6-14)
Challenge Rating: 8?
Treasure: half standard coins, standard goods, standard items.
Alignment: Usually neutral.
Advancement: 9-16 HD (large); 17-24 HD (huge).
The creature before you looks like much like a stick insect, but it has only four legs, two of which hold it up right in a manner perversely similar to a human, and its front legs end in vaguely humanoid hands that hold a spear. Its head is that of an insect, but its eyes display undeniable intelligence. Its body is covered in living plant growth and it stands nine feet tall.
All Tanzu speak their own language, planar trade, and either terran, aquan, auran, or ignan.
Combat: Most Tanzu dislike killing innocent people (according to their definition of “innocent”) and prefer not to kill until they’ve tried at least entangle, and some sleep-type spells. They will usually try first to persuade attackers to stand down and make peace, explaining that they are only benevolent beings intent on helping all living things. But they will stop people who repeatedly try to impede their projects, and will kill people who insist on attacking them, since obviously such people are violent, life-hating, death-loving evil people. They summon Wood Elementals, and some bring lesser beings from their home plane and the Plane of Wood as retainers to defend them. If forced to fight themselves, they first use their spells to weaken, entangle, and confuse the opponent before closing with claws, jaws, and weapons.
Positive energy protection: Tanzu are immune to any potentially harmful effects of positive energy, such as those of the Positive Energy Plane.
Regeneration: A Tanzu takes normal damage from fire and negative energy.
Spell-casting: Tanzu cast spells as 7th level clerics with access to the domains of plant and healing. Spells per day: 6/5+1/4+1/3+1/2+1. DC 14+spell level. They always cast cure spells (as opposed to inflict spells), spontaneously.
Spell-like abilities: at will- entangle, goodberry, plant growth, consecrate. 3/day- negative energy protection, spike growth, cure serious wounds, death ward, cure disease. 1/day- mass cure light wounds, wall of thorns, summon nature’s ally V (can only be used to summon Elementals from the Plane of Wood or Quasi-Plane of Flowers).
Aura of Life: Once per month, a group of at least three Tanzu is able to create an Aura of Life centered on a point of space of their choice that extends out in a 300-foot radius per Tanzu involved and lasts 1 year for each Tanzu involved. All beings within the aura mature at the normal rate but after reaching maturing only age at one fifth the normal rate. Similarly, all inanimate objects decay and deteriorate at one tenth the normal rate. Within the aura, living beings have only one fifth (20%) of the normal likelihood of catching any particular disease, and are three times as likely to recover. Creation of this aura takes one full day of Tanzu chanting in a circle. This aura can only be eliminated prematurely with a limited wish, alter reality, wish, miracle, reality revision, or with epic magic or divine intervention. All Tanzu are continuously surrounded with this aura with a radius of 200 feet.
If the Tanzu are interrupted while creating the group aura and forced to stop chanting, such as to defend themselves from attack, they must start over from the beginning.
Habitat/Society: Tanzu are native to the Positive Quasi-plane that borders the “Elemental” Plane of Wood. The plane is a world of perpetual growth unlimited by disease, aging, death, or decay. The Tanzu strongly believe that death, aging, and decay are wrong and unnatural, and oppose them with the same fervor with which Celestials oppose Fiends. These Outsiders try to spread their plane’s influence on the Prime Material, casting spells to arrest the processes of death and decay, “cleansing” areas of Prime worlds from the “corruption” of death. They generally tolerate death in the form of predation, although they do nothing to encourage it.
They try to make friends, or at least extend their influence, to the people who live in an area they’ve decided to live in. Many take a crusading view, trying to teach and “enlighten” people about the wrongness of death, and this message is often received favorably by Primes. They might come to a village, offering immortality and a cure to all diseases. They use their aura and spells if at all possible, but they also try to prevent deforestation, teach people about medicine and sanitation, and help combat the influence of death cults, disease gods, and the like.
Unfortunately, all the Tanzu’s activity greatly unbalances Prime Material ecosystems. By arresting all death and decay, they prevent the cycling of nutrients and the decay of corpses. At first, a glut of never-rotting carcasses attracts enormous numbers of carrion-eating animals. Later, when prey animals stop aging and catching diseases, the predators that usually pick off the infirm animals become unable to catch a meal. In desperation they often turn to eating livestock and children from the nearest village. The repeated use of plant growth: enrichment is no more environmentally friendly than industrial chemical fertilizers, eventually choking lakes and rivers with slime and causing rapid overgrowth of tangled weeds that can overrun villages and farms. But without the constant input of enrichment in lieu of decay, the soil is soon exhausted of all nutrients; crops fail, and plants concentrate their energy on vegetative growth, ceasing to produce flowers and fruit. The imbalance can develop gradually for many years, but if Tanzu are allowed to operate in an area for decades or centuries, the situation will eventually spiral out of control, causing regional ecological collapse. Even after the Tanzu leave and area (generally blaming their failure on the corruption in the Prime Material and the forces of death) it may take a century or more for the soil fertility and the ecosystem to recover.
Tanzu also work hard to stop forest and prairie fires. In the long run, this practice makes forests extremely vulnerable to massive, uncontrollable fires that kill trees, unlike natural forest fires which clear brush and leave most mature trees alive. In a grassland, the loss of fire often allows trees to take over the landscape, destroying the habitat of prairie animals. Tanzu also see no problem with invasive species, and do not comprehend the massive damage they can cause to Prime ecologies. On their own plane, all species of plants live together without driving each other extinct. The Tanzu are not the least put off when a single species of weed overruns fields, gardens, sidewalks, roofs, and houses, and they can’t understand why anybody else is bothered.
Their general attitude toward the Prime beings they encounter is polite and helpful, but they are also self-righteous or condescending (depending on the individual) toward any who disagree with them. Trying to convince them that death is necessary for Prime ecosystems to function is like trying to convince an abolitionist that slavery is necessary for the economy. They just don’t believe it, and they won’t listen. Some will be polite about it, some will get in-your-face and obnoxious, and some will patiently try to persuade the misguided. But changing even one Tanzu’s mind would be an amazing, Herculean feat.
The Tanzu’s home plane is like the root or bud of the Wood, it is the source of growth (fed by the Positive Energy) that blooms and grows outward, maturing in the Wood Plane, and finally aging and dying in the quasi-plane of Rot. The Tanzu’s philosophy is in complete harmony with their own plane and works perfectly well there, but that world is only part of the functioning whole that is the Wood Element. However, they believe their world is the pinnacle of creation, and every place else is tainted and oppressed by death and must be “saved” and “purified” and so forth. They’re convinced everybody else is misguided or misinformed.
Tanzu are somewhat perplexed by the undead. They don’t really know what to do with them. Their existence stalls death, but they are animated by Negative Energy, which diametrically opposes the Tanzu’s quasi-plane, and often created by clerics or mages in service to death gods. Therefore, most Tanzu tend to destroy them. But they aren’t as interested in this as they are in preventing mundane death.
Ecology: The Tanzu’s unnatural effect on Prime Material ecosystems is described above.
Tanzu are unable to reproduce their own race except on their home plane, and their reproductive cycle is unknown. Individual Tanzu always claim to be hermaphroditic. However, like all Outsiders they are capable of creating Planetouched offspring, and some Tanzu do this as a way to spread their planar influence on the Prime. These offspring are sometimes taken back to the Plane of Flowers to be raised there.
Tanzu avoid eating since it tends to cause death and taint their bodies with the influence of death, but they are willing to drink water (or mercury, or anything else not derived from living beings) for social purposes when interacting with Primes.