Friday, September 10, 2021

Garden District- Treebranch

If you looked at Garden from Tower Central or from the air, you would see a large black splotch within the glowing bright city. Before Garden existed, there was just the forest. The landscape was swallowed by the urban growth of the city as the electric lights could keep the darkness at bay, but a small valley retained some of that darkness. It was built in with homes and stores spread out further apart, patrolled and tended to be heavily armed game wardens, now a comfortable getaway. While kept clear of monsters from outside of the city, this part of town has far more wildlife then most, especially of the larger variety. People live here with the elusive pitch-black deer, the megafoxes, many other creatures not found in the back alleys and little walled gardens of Garden. It's secluded, and by far one of the best neighborhoods to disappear to if you're a wanted man.

Treebranch is very laid back. Not a lot of construction or manufacturing goes on here. Conversely, people ply outdoor skills and hunting to make their meals; more challenging game is here then the lemurs and hogs in the inner city. It isn't wealthy, but the people here always have acres of land to trade and make everything they need. Sometimes tourists get lost, and it advised to not dig in any of the clearings, as shallow graves from the mobsters and killers of Garden liter the ground like molehills. Rifles are the preferred weapon, and walking on foot is preferred to an obvious hover car.

Everyone here looks old and wise, even if they very clearly aren't. There is a forest-induced leanness to these people. Races included the Fawns, who appreciated the forests and natural beauty, but have taken to marking their horns with reflective paints and wearing white as to not get shot by overzealous hunters. Snappers, the blue-skinned crocodile peoples who mostly live around the docks, have moved here in high numbers due to the ease of finding and trapping small game for their endless carnivorous appetites. Other aliens include the many legged Surbabbi sneaking through the underbrush, but beings of all species can live here as long as they have an appreciation for nature.

Treebranch is the most “rural” part of Garden. As far as a huge, electric walled city goes, this place is as close to rural as you can get without it being a deathtrap. The outside of Garden city is stalked by foul monsters, psychic beings of great power, and the Torchlight society, all of whom will kill any city slickers who dare wander those woods. As such, this place is much like a microcosm of the great outdoors. Seasons and weather are treated more seriously, there are farmers and ranchers, woodsmen, hunters, wild-men, and crazy nature cultists all wrapped up in this little district.

Notable Characters - Roll 1d4
Saen-Man - 7 HP, 1 Armor, 1d4 switchblade, Psychic
He's a fawn, but with most of his fur and hair missing looks more like a creepy monster. He oils his bald head and isn't much for violence, but he has psychic abilities. He tends to avoid people most of the time, feeling their energy and simply hiding himself, but can be found and talked to if you look like reputable sweeps. Saen-Man has his finger on the pulse of life in Treebranch, and can instinctively sense when something damaging to nature happens here; a large fire, toxic waste dump, or poachers. He will insist that you put a stop to these problems but has little to offer in ways of rewards.

[2] Machine Guy - 8 HP, 2 Armor, 1d8+1 repeating rifle
Mysterious tinkerer. Tall blue alien, with two extra arms. He likes to keep the tractors, huskers, combines and all other forms of farm and outdoorsy equipment working here. Severely undercharges, he seems to just really enjoy his work. Has no idea how to work on the hovercars that populate most of Garden's city streets- prefers four wheels fueled by biofuels. Keeps on a mask and an air of mystery around him- rumor says he's on the run from a violent gang after stealing blueprints to a very advanced machines or powerful weapon that he couldn't let fall into their hands.

[3] Dutch - 4 HP, no armor, 1d10 hunting rifle
Makes moonshine, loves his neighbors. He's a human, which is probably weird for people in Garden, you don't see a lot of those. Bit of a hillbilly stereotype, but an honest man. Dutch isn't honest about his secret stash, a case of 800 silver coins, stolen directly from the mint on Earth. He had them with him when he ended up in this world. He's waiting to find a good price for them all, or a way to put them to good use. They're buried a few minutes walk away from his shack.

[4] Little Love - 3 HP, no armor, 1d4+1 pocket pistol
Small blue alien man, all about free love. Lives in a hover-van; currently propped up on fallen logs. Hits on female party members, shares drugs as quick as he talks, surprisingly not a creeper. Currently hiding out in Treebranch after offending several city officials and puritans for both his lifestyle and accidentally leaking the fact they have attended his psychadelic drug orgies in the past. Huge penis.

Notable Gang - Skinners
Holdings- Infamy (+3), Moonshine Addiction (-1)

These semi-tribal hillbillies are said to descend from the Torchlight Society, and a few members can recite their lineage back to before Garden was ever built- just lost souls living in the darkness. They have a large homestead that is fenced in by brutal bone piles and totems made by the members of their defeated enemies- this gang gives treebranch its reputation of being filled with cannibal hillbillies.

The gang is, especially in the past, known for the torturous deaths they inflicted on anyone who crossed them. This fearsome reputation brings fear and respect into the hearts of all treebranch residents; this is especially telling since the people of treebranch tend to be among the most well armed and self-reliant of everyone in the whole city. The gang's original rule of blood-only recruitment had to be lifted a few decades ago due to the original families shrinking and moving away, and the newer generation of the gang are softer then the older. In addition, the gang's main form of income in the form of making moonshine has backfired as most of the gang's members are alcoholics.

The leader of this gang is Two-Is-Better, a fat alien with a gray, eyeless head and a big slobbery mouth. He's very old and may come from a species that is biologically immortal; at least until they get so fat and big they can't move anymore or collapse under their own weight. He was around for the original founding of the gang and was once its second in command, and could tell many stories and reveal truths about Garden's ancient past, but will rarely talk to even residents of Treebranch; city slickers from other districts have no shot.

Notable Location - Growling Tree
Near the heart of Treebranch is a large white tree. It grows alone from the other trees; its scraggling roots uprooting the soil and killing its competition. It has no leaves (anymore) but seemingly gets its energy from an alien, inner source. Some believe it may be the creation of an especially potent Reality Warper. Every night, the tree's roots begin to shift and slither under the soil, breaking up and "swallowing" anything on the surface. Underneath the tree is a patch of  aerated, easily dug soil. It is filled with air pockets, rocks, decaying plants, and corpses of mob hits disposed of here. While there is treasure to be found here; any random shifting or moving of the tree will likely bury you alive, as well as remake any tunnels or chambers you have dug, making you lost in this burrow.

The tree is an anomaly even in a city like this. Beyond its highly energetic state, it is also powered by something in its trunks core. It gives the tree a feeling of heat all throughout its body; the rare piece of root or branch cut from the tree retain some of this heat for several years, leading to the rich and powerful of Garden creating self-heating beds and furniture as the height of luxury. However, the tree is much more "aware" of itself then most plants; it growls. When struck with an axe, it will shiver and move the harmed limb away. Its sap is powerfully fire retardant, and will seemingly erupt into wounds in the wood to put out fires of any size. Those who harm the tree even once will be disliked, causing it to growl at them for getting close; those who cut branches will soon find it impossible to get within touching distance without the tree trying to bury them alive under its roots. If a group it dislikes approaches, the ambient temperature of the clearing will rise too, until eventually it will cause serious harm and fatigue in most species who stick around too long. It remembers those who harm it; but also those who help it and treat it with respect. Only a few highly connected residents of Treebranch can even attempt the dangerous feat of climbing the animate tree; the small cache of owl nests and the unique view at its peak being the only rewards for such a dangerous climb.

Random Encounters in Treebranch - 1d10

[1] Several rednecks are having a party out the back of a big hover-truck. There are at least four dead deer, all of whom are of a rare species that this group is illegal hunting. It's pretty chill once you convince them to put their guns down.

[2] Homeless forest-dweller with leaves in his mane. Probably a criminal on the run. Looks like a mangy upright lion, but a bit too gray and spindly to look majestic. He'll be incredibly gracious for any food; but will absolutely steal the first valuable thing he sees the moment your back is turned. Also knows the location of the Growling Tree and will tell any adventurer-looking group of city slickers if you can find an actual bed for him to sleep in tonight.

[3] You find a Chimney stuck in a tree- its bayonet has been jammed in so deep the muzzle almost touches the bark. Pulling it out requires a very strong person, or several with lots of patience and time. The gun totally works. Roll a Random Gun; it has about half its total capacity of ammo loaded and ready to go.

[4] Two big alien deer in a small clearing. One is covered in horrible sores caused by some kind of flesh-burrowing insect, while the second puts its mouth on them in an attempt to nurse and heal the wounds. If you touch the infected deer, there is a 1 in 10 chance your species is compatible and can be host to the parasite.

[5] The next time you enter a cluster of trees and brush, the air seems to become chilled and the darkness gets darker. Any light-producing tools or flashlights you have dim and you hear ominous whispers. Psychics feel incredible senses of dread, then take 1d3 nonlethal damage as invisible fingernails scratch their bodies. After one turn or a roll of 6 on a d6 by a psychic if they attempt to "dispel" the darkness around you it goes away as though nothing happened.

[6] There is a nigh-pristine fountain of marble and stone hidden away behind two trees and some large stones. The water is drinkable and very clean. There is one small fish in the fountain. If you put your hands inside the fish will cuddle up to them, as though it was a pet abandoned here. The fountain has a small alien-angel statue with golden wings worth about $10 each.

[7] You find a shack with tons of metal tools and bloodied surfaces. There is a 1 in 6 chance you find grisly remains and a useful item if you spend a turn lurking around here. If you stay here for more then three turns for any reason; you will encounter the owner.

[8] You find a patch of disturbed dirt in the nearest convenient place; as though somebody just recently buried something here. If you dig it up, you'll find a weird rock that looks curled up on itself which emanates a strange smell. Any psychis in the party will note that it has a similar "aura" to things brought back up from the city's underground tunnels.After 2d6 hours of being dug up, the next time it is put down somewhere it gets up and starts to crawl away. It crawls towards the city limits to return to the forest outside.

[9] Roll on General Gang Table.

[10] Roll on General Encounters Table.


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