A dangerous plant that characters should approach with caution.
This plant is encountered in arid regions and appears as a common cactus, with oversized spines – which average between 5 and 10 centimetres in length. It stands up to 5 metres tall and can grow to a diameter of 70 centimetres around the base. Although most plants encountered are a single spike from base to tip, some may produce branches. Its name is evident from its fruit, which look very much like pork sausages. The fruit is borne as white “sausages” which are speckled with red dots, which hang in bunches from nodes near the plants apex.
What makes this plant unusual is that it is classified a carnivorous plant. It is very long lived (up to 500 years) and is thus not as vulgar in its thirst for flesh. Instead it plays a very patient waiting game:
The stalk of the sausage fruit plant is but one tenth its total size. Underneath the soil a large shallow root system fans out in a circle, extending up to 10 metres from its base. These roots are sensitive to pressure, serving as a deadly kill zone. Anyone approaching the plant will stand on an area where pressure is exerted to the root system. This pressure is communicated to the stem of the plant.
Pressure excreted must be significant. Thus small animals like skinks and birds, which make meals of the tasty sausage fruit, do not trigger the plant. Only larger animals, weighing 20 or more kilograms will exert enough pressure on the roots.
The first step within the kill zone will arm the plant. Alerting it to the presence of a possible meal and allowing it to identify from which quadrant said meal is approaching. The next step acts as a trigger. Once the trigger is set off, the plant reacts with lightning speed. The spines which face the quadrant where the first, arming step was taken, shoot out at a high velocity.
Each spine is laden with a deadly, fast acting toxin. This toxin has a dual function. Its first action, once it enters its victim’s bloodstream, is to incapacitate its voluntary muscles, effectively paralysing the victim within seconds but leaving its heart and lungs functioning, to ensure the toxin is distributed throughout the entire body. The toxins second function is as a digestive. Within an hour of rendering its prey immobile, the toxin starts to dissolve tissue it comes into contact with. This whole process works on volumes. The greater the amount of toxin in the body, the quicker the time in which paralysis will occur and the quicker the prey will digest.
While the plants prey is digested from within, its root system will start producing specialised rootlets, which grow upwards towards the point where the prey lies. Within a day they will have pierced its tenderised skin. Within two days, they will have anchored the corpse and started to secrete even more powerful digestive acids than those of the spines, to dissolve muscle and bone. Within a week, the corpse will have collapsed in on itself, as its now liquid inside’s seep into the soil, to be hungrily absorbed by the plants underground root system.
This article was last updated VI August MMII
Spines: The spines are hard and sharp. Per spine: Damage = 1d4 AP = 5 Toxin POT = 50. POT will increase by 10 per extra spine. Thus, is 3 spines, POT = 70. Spines must draw blood for toxin to work. The digestive agent will start to function within an hour of entering the bloodstream and from then on will remove 1d4 HP per hour until HP = 0 or the toxin is neutralised. Please refer to RuneQuest Poison rules for specifics on how poisons work.
Fruit: If a person should be so lucky as to obtain a sausage fruit without perishing in the attempt, it will be worth their while. Not only do the fruit contain an antidote to counteract the toxin in the spines. (This antidote must be ingested before the digestive takes effect, to avoid permanent loss to CON. If the digestive has taken effect, CON must be reduced by 1 for every passing hour until the digestive has been neutralised.)
In addition to the above, the fruit is delicious and the antidote has generic healing properties which will speed the healing of wounds and revitalise the body of people who consume it. To simulate this effect, make a first aid roll for each wounded area and add 1D10 to Current Fatigue Points. This is a once off effect and wounds cannot be speed healed by eating lots of fruit
The Tangle Vine, (also known as snag claw vine) is an arboreal plant that has formed a symbiotic relationship with a deadly fungus. Distantly related to the arboreal orchid family of plants, the vine still retains certain familiar characteristics. It grows in trees, hanging its roots from branches and produces a magnificent flower, the resulting seedpods of which bear a vanilla like aroma. The similarities end here however. It is thought that changing climate conditions forced the vine to adapt or die. Where once it may have thrived in a moist, jungle environment, it is now encountered in far harsher, dry climate climes.
The lack of nutrient laden jungle air is thought to have forced its adaptation. The air in arid climes is dry and bereft of any nutrients. To gain the nutrients necessary for its survival, the vine forged a mutualistic relationship with a deadly fungus, the Death Tendril. The fungus body resides inside hat of the vine, laying in wait for the vine to catch its prey.
Elongated roots covered in sharp hook thorns hand from the vines perch, waiting for an unsuspecting animal to brush against them. When this occurs, the hooks snag and easily pierce sin. Creatures snagged usually panic and try to break away. Although this is sometimes successful, it mostly casts them against other roots and soon they are well and truly stuck. While many thorns may break off, they are numerous enough to ensure that some remain embedded in skin.
The thorns contain a tiny opening just below their tip. Within this opening resides the Death Tendrils offensive weapon, an anaesthetic acid secreted in preparation for the trap to be tripped. Blood from the stricken creature carries the anaesthetic to its muscles where it swiftly goes to work. As the acid is secreted in every thorn, even ones that have broken off are still effective in paralysing the prey.
Once the prey has been sufficiently incapacitated, the fungus grows rapidly. The anaesthetic also acts as an anti coagulant, ensuring that the openings made by the thorns are not closed.
Thin fungal tendrils issue forth from the same holes where the anaesthetic was stored. They enter the prey and begin secreting digestive enzymes. As tissue is dissolved, it is absorbed by the tendrils, which then grow into the gap left, anchoring them further into the preys living flesh.
The tendrils are sensitive to the anaesthetic acid levels within the prey, any drop in which cause them to secrete more, maintaining the status of paralysis. Thus the prey is slowly digested alive until loss of blood and/or vital organs cause it to die. As the aesthetic is only local, incapacitating voluntary muscles, the prey is not even spared pain as it is slowly digested.
Being a fungus, the Death Tendril cannot use all of the nutrients it absorbs and excretes them from its main body, where they are absorbed by the vine, providing it with sustenance to sustain its growth. The Death Tendril is also interesting in that it can occur/live without the Tangle Vine. This is rare however as their mutualistic relationship is so beneficial, but when it occurs, the tendril can be spotted at night due to the phosphorescent glow emanating from it. This is due to the unused nutrients it has excreted being burned up by bacteria, a by-product of which is the luminescence.
The deadly twosome has one more trick up to play. In order to assure mutual propagation, the tendril releases its sticky spores into the vines seedpod ensuring a high likelihood of spores being carried with seeds when they are distributed. Anyone mistaking a Tangle vine seedpod for that of a vanilla orchid will be truly surprised to find the spore infested seeds somewhat disastrous to their digestive tract, causing searing abdominal pains accompanied by cold sweats and a general sense of delirium. While not poisonous as such, the effects of digesting the spores could be disastrous to anyone facing imminent battle or attempting some dangerous task.
This article was first published on XXXI July MMIII
Hit Points 10
Entangle – See Notes
Hit Points 2
Must destroy host
Special – See notes
Tangle Vines: Depends on the prey’s reaction. Classically, someone brushing a vine will be pierced by a number of thorns. Thorn damage is negligible, any sort of armour will stop them piercing skin. If skin is pierced, the preys reaction will determine how entangled it gets. If it thrashes around in panic, it will become more entangled, if it freezes and takes stock of the situation before slowly removing thorns, it will likely escape.
Anaesthetic: The anaesthetic has a POT of 1 point per thorn. E.G. If 5 thorns pierce, its POT is 5. It will start acting two turns after the thorn first pierces flesh. Match POT vs. CON on the resistance table. The anaesthetic lasts 10 turns; so further piercing will increase POT. E.G. Prey is pierced with 5 thorns and resists vs. POT 5. It is pierced by 7 more thorns and then has to match vs. POT 12 etc. Failing to resist will result in local paralysis of areas pierced. (Use logic here. If 20 thorns pierce the prey’s arm and 1 its leg, clearly the leg will not go lame. Perform resistance vs. POT I two separate checks).
Death Tendrils: These will start growing 5 turns after first piercing. Digestion will commence in a further 3 turns (8 turns after first piercing). Digestion does 1 point of damage to affected body area (as well as global HP) per 5 tendrils or part thereof per turn. E.G. 7 tendrils are growing into an arm. 7/5 rounded up = 2 points damage per turn. Remember the tendrils can secrete more anaesthetic. Treat this like the thorns, 1 point POT per tendril.
Pod Spores: Best to role-play this, but if you have to resist, treat them as having a POT of 10 (if full pod is consumed).
Post Script: Needless to say, the Tangle Vine flower is of enormous value within botanical circles. The danger in gathering such a flower is enormous. Tangle vines, which sprout without their mutualistic partner never, reach maturity.
A hard wood tree common to the dark continent of Vassniss.
The Puka tree is a slow growing hard wood which is native to Vassniss. Although specimens can be can be found in most regions of Vassniss, it prefers to grow near the coast (usually some twenty to seventy leagues inland) while becoming sparser inland. The tree will become rarer to find in areas where it is too wet (jungle or right on the coast) as well as arid areas.
The tree is a slow growing giant whose girth can commonly reach diameters of five meters with heights towering up to thirty meters. While its size can be impressive, the tree is known for another reason – its poisonous resin.
Puka resin is a highly toxic defense against ever invasive attack from a myriad of animals. Browsers have learned to shun its leaves, while insects look elsewhere to burrow. Dead Puka wood may lie on the ground for years before rot sets in.
Resin POT can vary depending on how concentrated and fresh it is. The more concentrated and fresher the higher the POT – which can reach up to 17. A more average POT of 8 to 11 is more common. The POT does drop off with age, but wood that is decades old can still retain sufficient POT to cause discomfort and infection.
Puka wood is hard and dense and retains its resin for many years, which makes it an excellent material for building and ship manufacture. Although dangerous to work with, its resistance to rot coupled with proper maintenance may see timber lest for decades.
Beware the wood crafter who receives a Puka splinter, lack of immediate treatment could lead to infection, loss of limb or even death!
Onesha is a hardy grass which can be found growing wild pracvtically anywhere, from the wind blown moorland at the tip of Gaia down to the Great Sourthern Peaks. It produces a small head of bitter grain which can be ground to flour for bread as well as a mush to make beer with. It is nutritious but not as popular as earth grains such as barley and wheat. The small amount of seeds on each head make it a very labour intensive crop to cultivate and bread made from the grain tends toward being hard and bitter. Wealthier humans shun in as orc and/or peasant fare.
Conversely, Onesha (pronounced On~sh) is very popular with orcs for the same reasons humans dislike it. Beer made from it is strong and needs little additives, such as hops. The beer swilling orcs will often lay down their weapons for harvest month, such is the importance of the grain to them.
These are small, sweat berries, which grow on low thorny scrambling bushes. The small round berries are usually black in colour, although red and white ones are also sometimes found. Ano berries are tasty and sweet, making a nice snack by themselves, although they are often baked into pies or even pressed into a light wine. The bushed they grown on are protected by sharp, hook shaped thorns.
Many a ano berry picker has found themselves tangled in a bush as the thorns clutch to clothing and skin. Farmers have realised the use of the ano berry bush and often employ it in hedges, to keep would be trespassers from crossing into their lands. In the wild, ano berries can make for a pleasant surprise, or an ugly one if one should unwittingly stumble into a bush.
Notes on the Black Wurt weed found in Northern Gaia. Also known as: Orc Weed (Slang), Djudidench (Slavinian), Ggnurt (Northice Orcish) or G’nash (Orcish slang).
A tough scraggy plant found abundantly on rock faces in the colder regions of Northern Gaia. This resilient weed has thick moist leaves which, when crushed exude a powerful smelling black ichor, the stench of which is enough to turn the stomach of even the most iron-gutted horticultural enthusiast.
Although widely regarded as a weed in civilised (and barbarian) society, the plant seems to have acquired a special place in northern orcish (and some primitive clans) herb lore. The ichor exuded has the special property similar to the insulating property of oils and fats. Many northern orcs use the foul smelling ichor to protect themselves against the cold if caught outside in winter months, possibly being the “root” cause of the perceived noxious odour of the species. This cultural practice may be what has led to the speciest prejudice against foul smelling ‘orrible orcs.
Although the root has been used by orcish raiders as camouflage in the past, its properties as a concealing agent are (according to orcish legend) usually countered by it’s foul stench. (Leading to many a human joke of smelling the raiders way before you can see them).
Another interesting property of the oily ichor is its uses as a lubricant for weapons and armour maintenance. Although the oil protects and insulates against rust and weathering the ichor also has a slight acidic quality when dry, possibly leading to the unexplained disintegration (and perceived lower quality) of orcish arms and armour. Many a looter has been found gnashing their teeth (or being gnashed) when seemingly fine looted orcish armaments suddenly weaken and rust. For this reason the plant must be applied often and kept moist (or washed off in limewater) to remain effective.
“The Extended Tome of Applied Herbology” Orpheus, Scribe.