Esoteric Botany – Death Aspected Plants

The Forest's Energy

Image by lrargerich via Flickr

   Some of the most exotic plants and animals of the Twilight isles grow in high-magic locations – places where the power of one of the Eight Thunders – Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Life, Death, Spirit, and Magic – is readily available in the environment.

   Plants and animals use their environments. It’s one of the things they’re noted for.

   There aren’t that many plants which use the Death Thunder though, and most of them are fairly unhealthy specimens. Unless they’ve been especially modified by a biomancer, quite a lot of the death-aspected plants are simply resistant enough to negative energy to survive in areas where its strong – a particularly unexciting effect. Many others simply make the people who come into contact with them (or, worse, eat them) ill. Still, there are a few interesting plants in this category.

   Riltshian (Shadowwood) is one of the most interesting negative-energy plants; it’s only tangible in dark places; when exposed to strong light it remains visible, but is no more substantial than a mist – except to demons and incorporeal undead, who find it solid. You can thus use it to create cells with solid walls that contain doorways when a guard brings a strong light. If you paint the center of a staff, that section will remain solid, but you can use the ends to hit incorporeal undead and demons as long as the area is otherwise well lit. Similarly, you can build floors that are only substantial as long as the lights are dim – an effect which at least one king used to good effect in his audience chamber; if he chose to put a spotlight on some irritant, said irritant would fall though the floor – and into the pit full of spikes beneath. If he was – say – assailed by a squad of assassins, or rebels, he could just light the place up.

   Milvorhas (Nightbane) is almost certainly artificial; it apparently draws power from the Maze of Souls in some fashion – which it uses to survive and to bind negative energy and pump it back into the demonic aspect of the Twilight Isles. Physically it’s a low wiry bush with a massive ball of tuberous roots. It propagates itself by runners, but is usually intentionally propagated by either transplanting young plants from the fringes of an older colony or by digging or pulling up a few roots and transplanting those. It’s commonly used to clear land of excessive negative-energy contamination – or to help contain powerful demons or undead with a penchant for returning; planting a nightbane root within the corpse, place of power, or whatever focus they use, will prevent them from building up enough negative energy to come back.

   Venomwood actually includes at least a dozen different species of trees and shrubs, all of which use necromantic energies to produce, or absorb and concentrate, various toxins. Gathering or handling the various species, or getting into contact with the sap, will produce results ranging from rashes and nausea on up through severe illness. Actually burning the wood will release its entire burden of toxins, and hence breathing the smoke or many of the species can be quickly fatal. Alchemists can extract a variety of nasty toxins from the various species of Venomwood, but few adventurer’s feel that poisons are worth the bother of dealing with the undead and demons that invariably infest any area where venomwood grows. There are plenty of other – and easier – sources for poison.

   Those same adventurers sometimes change their mind when they discover that negative-energy infused poisons are impervious to most magic – which makes them impossible to cure with conventional treatments; you need an actual antidote, as opposed to curative spells and effects. Perhaps fortunately, however, the market for such poisons is relatively limited.

   Arnsen (Deathgrass) is essentially vampire grass; it drains the life force of any other living thing which comes into contact with it. While the process is slow, it’s also insidious. Animals who come into contact with it – or, worse, eat it – will soon feel tired, then utterly exhausted, and then usually go to sleep – and then usually don’t wake up again. Luxuriant green patches of grass in the midst of patches of otherwise dead and sickly verdure are best avoided.

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