Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Berk Species Profile: Ents

Ancient Tree and Jackdaws by Zhou Wenging. Image from Wikimedia Commons
Residents of Berk have a reputation for being easy-going and carefree, and a large part of that is because of the Ents. Ents are philosophical plant people who have practical views on life. They enjoy collecting things, learning, and sharing their wisdom. Ents love their town, and their tough bodies make them excellent defenders of their friends and homes.

According to Brofessors, the Ents got their name from the first time a small group of Brofessors found the town of Redwood. The Brofessors named the plant residents of the town after characters in a beloved story by one of the Brofessors' favorite writers. Librarians contest this claim, suggesting that the Ents named themselves after an herb-loving community on a pre-Event website. Whichever story is true, the name is an accurate description.

The Ents have long been associated with the city of Redwood, and even those who were born and grew up in Berk still have some of the traits associated with Redwood Ents. They tend to speak in a careful drawl, they favor clothing in simple patterns that were around for centuries before the First Event, and they have a strong sense of community.


Ents are all plant people, but they vary in how plant-like they appear. Some are nearly indistinguishable from small trees until they move, while others look like people with gnarled features and rough skin. All Ents have bark skin in a range of colors and textures corresponding to tree species. Thanks to their plant nature, Ents grow tall, averaging around six feet, with the very tallest being around eight feet tall. Ents come in a variety of shapes, from thin and willowy to solid and broad.

Ents come in two main varieties, though it is not clear whether these are based on genetic lines or individual variation. Some Ents resemble trees, with no clear delineation between their head and their torso, arms like branches, and faces like knots and hollows in a tree trunk. Others are more human-like, with clear necks and chins, and their each arm clearly consisting of an upper arm, elbow, forearm, hand, and fingers. Ents make no distinction between these two varieties, so neither do other citizens.

All Ents have leafy hair. Some Ents have hair that changes with the seasons, but most have hair that is green year-round. Their hair tends to have long, thin leaves radiating out from central points.

Ent voices are always rich and mellow. They can be high or low, rumbling or musical, but there is always a sense of warmth in their way of speaking.


As plants, Ents do not need to eat, but instead take in nutrients via shallow roots in their feet. Though Ents do not need sleep as such, they must "plant themselves" for several hours a day to let their roots down. As a result of living in society with other species, Ents tend to do this at night. Their leaves absorb sunlight all day, and they do not need to be "planted" for this to occur. Nevertheless, they like to be outdoors as much as possible during the day in order to soak in sunlight. When they are indoors during the day, they will often be near windows, talking or reading a book.

Ents are very tough and can live for long periods of time. It is difficult to injure an Ent with a knife or a small-caliber firearm. Powerful handgun or rifle cartridges can do a lot of harm to Ents, and Kenners are doubly dangerous to them. Flamethrowers, though rare, are the absolute bane of Ents, and most Ents have a deep-seated fear of fire. An Ent can take grievous injuries and survive, but it can take years or decades for an Ent to fully recover from a wound.

The most famous aspect of Ent physiology is that the leaves in their hair can be plucked and smoked. This produces a natural high that varies depending on the Ent's personality. Smoking the leaves of a calm, steady Ent will produce a mellow high, while smoking the leaves of an adventuresome Ent will give a sharp buzz. Ents cannot smoke their own leaves or the leaves of other Ents, but they will share their leaves with their non-Ent friends. In their view, no non-Ent ever understands an Ent without first smoking that Ent's leaves. It is considered a high honor to be invited to smoke an Ent's leaves, and doing so is believed to have a beneficial effect on the smoker's psyche.

Species Faction: Redwood Deputy

At the center of a network of Ent and tofu ranches and farms, the people of Redwood must remain constantly vigilant against the threat of raiders and hungry monsters. They must also keep order in a town that frequently hosts merchants and adventuring parties on their way to and from the wasteland. The Ents who are tasked with keeping the peace of Redwood are the Sheriff and the Deputies of Redwood.

Redwood Deputies dress in a similar manner to nineteenth-century gunfighters, especially when it comes to hats. They also show a great fondness for ponchos, or "rugs" as they are sometimes known. Redwood Deputies are armed with projectile weapons, often of antique design. Lever action rifles and six-shot revolvers are the most common of these weapons. This allows the Deputies to make their own ammunition, a vital advantage in the ammunition-starved area outside Berk.

It is not uncommon for Redwood Deputies to spend a lot of time in Berk, and several are on a semi-permanent assignment to the neighboring city. Redwood Deputies stationed in Berk are expected to help make arrangements for merchants coming and going from Redwood. These Redwood Deputies patrol the less savory parts of Berk, knowing that cattle rustlers and bandits who prey on the ranches and farms surrounding Redwood will often have hideouts on the outskirts of Berk. The Sheriff of Redwood considers it a wise investment of Deputies to show the people of Berk the courage and skill of Redwood Ents.

In order to become a Redwood Deputy, an Ent must demonstrate skill with pistols, rifles, and shotguns, including the ability to clean and maintain them. Though Ents usually move slowly, they are capable of bursts of speed, much to the short-lived regret of would-be bandits who didn't bother bringing along a seventh member of their gang. Redwood Deputies must also be able to ride a horse, which can be difficult depending on how well the Ent can bend. Luckily, Ents can't get saddle sores.

Ent Adventurers

Ent adventurers are often Redwood Deputies passing through or stationed in Berk, but they can also be Brofessors, Librarians, or simply freelance explorers or guns-for-hire. Adventuring is not a common calling among Ents, as they would much rather enjoy sitting in a comfortable chair reading a book or working the land. The most common reason for an Ent to become an adventurer is that his or her friends are adventurers. Once an Ent befriends someone, that Ent will protect that person with his or her life.

Ent leaves are a considerable advantage to adventuring parties, who deal with the stress of exploring unmapped sections of the city while keeping a constant eye out for dangerous animals and gangs. Having an Ent along allows the party to relax and ease their tension. Of course, it also helps to have someone along who is fast with a six-gun and knows how to wear a rug.


  1. Excellent, as usual. Some things you may want to consider:

    Some of my apple trees were struck by lightning a while ago, and it makes me wonder how Ents would react to a thunderstorm.

    Diseases. If done well, tree diseases could add an interesting element to the story, such as the last Ent of a species or different Ent species having to remain separated from each other because otherwise they would get diseases (if I remember correctly there is a risk of disease if Peach trees and bush Cherries are near each other).

    Ents may be beneficial to many playable races but they would probably still have a lot of enemies like: wood peckers, carpenter ants, Rose Chafers (I had to pick hundreds off my trees last year--yes, by hand! Note that the Rose Chafers would eat smokeable leaves), Tent Caterpillars (which are best killed, Aphids (Read the section about ant mutualism), etc.

  2. That's an awesome suggestion. If I add a Disease section to the Berk RPG rulebook, Ents will definitely have their own section where I include these ideas!