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An illustration of a stand of aspen trees showing an up-close view of the white and black trunks of older trees alongside the leaves and branches of younger trees.


Safety Rating: Mildly to extremely dangerous, depending on which allies are nearby.

Environment: Cold areas with cool summers, especially mountains and high plains.

Details: Like Quaking Aspen, the leaves of Whispering Aspen flutter in the slightest breeze. What makes Whispering Aspen distinct is the unsettling whispers that infuse the hiss of its leaves. These magical whispers continue in winter, but in the absence of leaves, the whisperers infuse the scratch, clatter, and creak of the bare branches.

The magic of the whispers lets the trees pass messages to each other and the other plants around them. These messages include everything that concerns a plant, especially the presence of pests, herbivores, and strangers.

Whispering Aspens are good at recruiting allies, especially other magical plants. When a Whispering Aspen perceives a threat, it sends out a message to those allies, especially those that are predatory plants and fungi. Depending on what allies are nearby, this can be exceedingly dangerous. Adding to the danger, Whispering Aspen whispers are unsettling to those who hear—but can’t understand—them. Anyone unsettled by the whispers becomes less aware of what is going on around them, making it easier for the Whispering Aspen’s allies to sneak up on them.

Growth: They are similar to non-magical forms of aspen, including growing in colonies with a shared root system.

Magical Whispers: When the player characters enter an area with Whispering Aspens, it is up to the game master whether or not the trees immediately call their allies to attack the player characters. Either way, the aspens will whisper about the player characters. Characters with the Plant Talker species trait understand these whispers, but everyone else that hears them must roll their magical defense. Any character that is hard of hearing, or that has something significantly reducing their ability to hear, is prepared on this roll.

  • 0 Successes: A failure means that the character is so disturbed by the whispers that they can’t concentrate. As a result, the character takes a one die penalty to all mind rolls. In addition, characters that use concentration to cast magic are unable to cast magic.
  • 1 Success: A partial success means that the whispers unsettle character enough that they are less aware of everything around them. The character takes a one die penalty to all Awareness Skill rolls (Insight, Perception, and Survival).
  • 2 Successes: A full success means that the character is able to ignore the whispers.
  • 3 Successes: An outstanding success means that the character is able to understand the whispers. The character knows if trees are tolerating their presence or if the trees are calling allies to attack. If the character takes time to listen to the whispers, they can also find out the locations of nearby people the trees have detected, including the trees’ allies. The game master may add in other things the Whispering Aspens know, including juicy pieces of plant gossip.

Because this is a hearing-based magical effect, characters that can’t hear are immune to it. In addition, characters being affected by the whispers can stop those effects by physically or magically blocking their hearing. Because it isn’t possible to selectively block out the whispers, characters with blocked hearing will need to communicate without verbal language.


Whispering Aspens are part of the Crossroads Setting for the tabletop role-playing game, Magic Goes Awry. Click here to go to the list of strange and whimsical magical plants from the Land of Crossroads.


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