The Slumbering Forest

Levels 5-10


When the forest starts to wake, the group can try to put it back to sleep…or chop it down.

A Forest Encounter to Drop Into Your DnD Game

Many campaigns have an old forest, and many old forests have Treants, living tree shepherds that rarely wake unless they need to defend the forest. This encounter covers several scenarios involving the Treants based on player goals, whether the trees are friends or foes.


For our forest encounter, we’ll use lots of tools to make terrain more interesting if a fight breaks out. Sprinkle them in as you see fit to challenge your specific composition of classes (make sure to include some that lets players use their abilities to overcome! For example, a high level monk can run across liquid surfaces, so you could include a pond to make them feel useful).

  • Overgrowth: Areas of the map can be overgrown by bushes, vines, fallen branches, and other vegetation. This area is Difficult Terrain. If you want to make it more dangerous, the overgrowth can be thorned and deal 1 point of piercing damage for each 5 feet a creature moves through it.
  • Ditches: There are deep ditches 10 feet deep running through the area. Climbing out requires all of a creature’s movement plus a DC 12 Strength (Athletics) check. If you want to make it more dangerous, these trenches could be filled with water and mud, raising the DC to escape and drowning PCs that don’t make it out in a minute or two.
  • Trees: Trees are a nice basic way to add cover in the area. A small tree creates Half Cover, a medium tree creates Three-Quarters Cover, and a big tree provides Total Cover. If you want to make these more dangerous, have the Treants animate trees into enemies while players use them for cover!


There’s a few reasons your players might venture into a forest like this one. Think about what the players are pursuing and the forces that might stand in their way, then choose an encounter from the list below that matches one or both.

Player Goals

  • Protect the forest from outside danger: Run Encounter A
  • Extract a valuble resource from the forest: Run Encounter B
  • Burn the forest to the ground: Run Encounter C

Faction Goals

  • Chop down the forest: Run Encounter A
  • Acquire a valuable resource before anyone else: Run Encounter B
  • Protect the forest at all costs: Run Encounter C

Encounter A

In this encounter, the players must defend the sleeping forest from loggers.

How I Set Up This DnD Forest Encounter

This encounter involves defending the forest itself. Loggers are moving in to establish a camp from which to decimate the forest, and for whatever reason the players have, they need to keep the camp from being built.

If your PCs want to negotiate, they’ll have to deal with the project’s leader, Alexander. He isn’t inclined to change his mind, but if your players are determined, you could run a Skill Challenge. See this encounter for guidance on running a skill challenge.If it comes to a fight, Alexander and his allies are prepared. Alexander is only a thug, but he’s hired on veterans to protect himself from attackers. While the Veterans cover the 10 peasants, they chop away at the trees.


If it comes to violence, the characters need to protect the trees above all else. While the Veterans cover the 10 peasants, they chop away at the trees. In 1 round, they can fell a large tree in the area, and if they chop down a certain number, they’ve killed the hibernating treants in the area. Determine what this number is before you begin combat—for easy encounters, it could be 5 or 6, but for a harder challenge, it could be 3 or even just 2.

How I Resolved This DnD Forest Encounter

When this encounter finishes, your players have hopefully defended the forest. If they have, then when the treants awaken, they can bestow whatever gift upon the party that was their goal in the first place.

If the players failed to guard the forest, then they experience a major setback. The loggers can move on to decimate the forest from many sides, so if the characters face off against them again, they’ll be in a stronger position and the characters may need allies to even hope to take them on.

Encounter B

In this encounter, the party tries to extract a valuble resource from the forest…without angering its protectors.

How I Set Up This DnD Forest Encounter

This encounter involves taking a valuble resource from watchful treants. What could the resource be? A rare nectar that only comes from the flower of a blossoming treant? A rare wood from a magical tree? Likely you’ll have an answer to this from your own party’s goals.

It could also be a magical item. Any druid or ranger oriented item could work—a weapon, a spellcasting focus, a staff, or even a cloak or other wearable.


The resource is located near (or even on!) a treant. The treant, as a guardian of the forest, will oppose the party’s acquisition of this resource with violence if necessary. If the party tries to flee, you may need to run a skill challenge to see how your party escapes from one or more treants. See this encounter for guidance on running a skill challenge.

How I Resolved This DnD Forest Encounter

This challenge can be failrly black and white in its resolution. If the PCs didn’t manage to get what they were after, it might be moved to a different, more secure location to prevent further thievery, or perhaps an enemy faction gets to it instead.

Encounter C

In this encounter, the party’s goal is to burn the forest completely to the ground.

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