This creature resembles a treant but instead of the kindly, gentle face of the tree-folk its face is twisted into a grim scowl. Its deep-set eyes and jagged mouth give it an almost skull-like grimace and its four twisted arms are tipped in sharp woody claws. Its leaves are deep green, almost black, and have ghostly white markings on them. Behind it, the skeletal remains of unfortunate animals shamble through the undergrowth.
Speed 30 ft.
3/day—animate dead, blight (DC 18), crushing despair (DC 17), desecrate, death knell (DC 15), detect evil, detect good, protection from good, unhallow
Str 29, Dex 10, Con 23, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 16
A gnarlwood emanates an unhallow spell in a 20-foot radius centered on itself. Thus, a gnarlwood is constantly protected as by a magic circle from good, and the DC to resist positive channeled energy within 20 feet of it is reduced by 4 (at the same time the DC to resist negative channeled energy within 20 feet of a gnarlwood gain a +4 bonus). This aura can be dispelled or negated, but the gnarlwood can restart it again as a free action on its next turn.
ECOLOGYtreants that had the misfortune of sprouting in land cursed by an unhallow spell. The good nature of the treant is subverted by the very nourishment it gains from the earth, and the evil of the spell suffuses into its every fiber.
Most gnarlwoods die before they are much larger than twiggy saplings, since few creatures of nature can survive on a diet of pure evil. Those that do survive grow into menacing, twisted mockeries of treants, with four knobby arms that end in cruel barbed claws. Gnarlwoods are spiteful, hateful things that seek to destroy everything they see. Bereft of any compassion, gnarlwoods tear through forests accompanied by the shambling corpses of its victims, rending and clawing anything that moves.
Some evil druidic temples secluded deep in ancient forests are protected by entire groves of gnarlwoods. Unfortunately for the worshippers, not even they are spared the psychotic wrath of the gnarlwood.
A gnarlwood usually begins combat with its protection from good in effect (especially when facing good-aligned opponents) and normally sends its minions (if any) into battle to distract or soften up its foes. In the first round it attempts to use its slay living spell-like ability against a creature it deems highly susceptible (usually a wizard or sorcerer since they have poor Fortitude saves). In the next round it assaults its opponents with its claws, rending any opponent it hits with at least two of its claws. It sprinkles combat with its spell-like abilities throughout. During battle, if possible, it tries to keep any undead minions it has with it within the confines of its unhallowed aura so enemy clerics find it hard to affect them with their channel energy ability.
A gnarlwood constantly howls and wails during battle and always fights to the death.