Piercing yellow eyes gaze from the mossy skull of this ivy-covered skeleton. Where bones should be, gnarled roots grow, and tangles of vines hang from its moldering chest like spilt viscera.
Boruta CR 9
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +13 (1d4+3 plus grounding curse)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th; concentration +10)
Spells Prepared (CL 7th; concentration +10)
4th—spike stones (DC 17)
3rd—call lightning (2, DC 16), plant growth
2nd—fog cloud, soften earth and stone, tree shape, wood shape (DC 15)
1st—calm animals, detect animals or plants, goodberry, magic fang, speak with animals
0—create water, detect magic, detect poison, know direction, mending
Str 17, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 17, Cha 16
Base Atk +10; CMB +13; CMD 26
Feats Combat Casting, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Improved Iron Will, Mobility, Natural Spell
Skills Perception +20, Stealth +19, Survival +17
Languages Common, Sylvan
SQ treespeech, wild shape
Borutas take no damage from electricity. Instead, any electricity attack used against a boruta temporarily increases its Constitution score by 1d4 points. The boruta loses these temporary points at the rate of 1 per hour.
Any living creature that takes damage from a boruta’s claws must make a DC 20 Fortitude save or have hundreds of tiny seed pods injected into its body. These seeds grow rapidly; they explode through the victim’s skin on its next turn, dealing 1d6 points of damage and entangling it as runners and vines grow from its flesh and root themselves in the ground. The victim cannot move unless it makes a DC 10 Strength check to tear the plants from the ground, but doing so also deals 1d4 points of damage to the victim. This effect lasts for 10 minutes. Remove curse, blight, diminish plants, and similar spells instantly end this effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.
A boruta has the ability to converse with plants as if subject to a continual speak with plants spell, and most plants greet them with an attitude of friendly or helpful.
Organization solitary, party (2–4), or band (2–4 borutas plus 1–3 shambling mounds)
A distant cousin of shambling mounds, borutas are powerful wielders of natural magic that make their homes in marshes or wetlands, where their mysterious control over the natural environment is most useful.
Though none are sure of the specific relationship between borutas and shambling mounds, the connection is clear when comparing the two, their powers and affinity for the marshlands being the most obvious similarities. Borutas—or “swamp lords,” as they’re sometimes called—resemble mossy, skeletal humans at first glance, with bonelike wooden frames, viny covering, and vivid yellow eyes. Considerably more intelligent than their shambling mound cousins, they claim wide territories—typically swamps, forests, jungles, or other lands thick with plant-life—and brook no insult to their realm. Highly defensive of the life within their lands, especially plants and thinking plant creatures, borutas view themselves as the avengers of those that can’t defend themselves, and mercilessly repay destructive invaders with verdurous force. On the rare occasions when they deal peaceably with non-plant creatures, borutas cover their frightening forms with thick veils of grass or peat moss.
Borutas generally stand about 7 feet tall and weigh just over 200 pounds.
Surfacing from the dark waters of bogs and marshes, borutas are birthed from swamps and forested caves in isolated pods. Cocooned in a thick shell of reeds and swampy grasses, a boruta grows inside its own chamber until it reaches maturity, about 2 years after the emergence of the pod. Upon reaching this stage of maturity, a swamp lord breaks out of its protective shell fully grown.
Though formidable upon emergence, infant borutas are incredibly vulnerable while developing in their cocoons. If the shell-like pod is ruptured before development is complete, the boruta within ceases to grow, usually causing it to simply wither away. Few can say where borutas come from, though some claim that natural lands threatened with destruction or with strong ties to the First World produce them.
A boruta’s viny flesh typically takes a greenish hue, though these colors change with the natural progression of the seasons or to otherwise blend in with the foliage of its homeland. As a boruta ages, its leaves continues to darken, and the most ancient swamp lords possess foliage almost as black as the murky waters from which they emerge. How long a boruta might survive, no one knows, as the reclusive creatures sometimes vanish into their fecund homes and aren’t seen for decades. Some propose the creatures are immortal—or at least have life spans on par with the oldest trees—so long as the territory they watch over remains healthy.
Borutas hold plant and animal life in the same esteem as humans typically hold members of their own race or other sentient creatures. As sentient plants, borutas share kinship with the oldest trees and slightest blades of grass in their territories, viewing all as members of their extended family and watching over all. Their manner of thinking and philosophies differ wildly from these of humanoids, being far more fundamentally tied into the cycle of seasons and the mysterious rhythms of the earth. Borutas understand that nature is rarely calm or peaceful, and that the mere act of moving can often be disruptive or outright destructive to other organisms, yet do what they can to keep forces outside of nature from disturbing or destroying the environments of their homes.
Left to their own devices, they tend to plants and vulnerable animals, commune with the oldest growth and natural creatures of their territories, and encourage new growth. Should their homes be violated, however, whether by the axes of enterprising humanoids or the depredations of rampaging monsters, borutas do all they can to prevent future harm. Sometimes this might mean slaying a dangerous interloper, but in more extreme cases their vengeance might launch an extended campaign of natural violence against an entire community. Borutas try not to harm the
innocent, but if they view certain neighboring creatures as fundamentally destructive, or are forced to choose between the lives of invaders and those of their plants, they will always side with nature. Such decisions often put borutas at odds with expanding humanoid communities, leading to tales of violent swamp monsters or evil spirits of the forest, though rarely do such stories consider the plants’ points of view. Borutas are intelligent enough to reason with, but are stolid in their defense of their lands and will no more accept partial loss or brook lessened defilement of their homes than a community might assent to the murder of a mere fraction of its populace.
Borutas rarely encounter others of their kind, being born alone and never leaving their territories of their own accord. They typically find themselves at odds with humanoids, and even the most nature-sensitive elves often find them disagreeable or alien enough to bear avoidance. Druids who know of a boruta in a region typically go out of their way to placate it and serve as peacemakers between the swamp lord and the communities of other humanoids; they often preach avoidance to all who would pass through the proud plant creature’s lands. Despite their similar interests in watching over nature, treants rarely share territories with borutas, preferring highly forested lands while the swamp lords tend to favor darker lands and the meaner plants of the forest. When members of the two races do share lands, they might briefly cooperate in defense of their forest, though treants typically disfavor boruta tactics, which they view as shortsighted and provocative. Fey, too, have mixed opinions of borutas, with goodly fey avoiding them, while the more neutral hold them in high regard. Yet borutas share a special alliance with shambling mounds, treating the wild plants as primitive cousins, often assembling and guiding tribelike communities of the mounds and cooperating with them to drive off those who threaten their lands.