Esoteric Botany – Spirit Thunder Plants

Details of the flax plant, from which linen fi...

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   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 Spirit Thunder though; it’s one of the more elusive forms of magic, and tends to be easily scattered and dissipated – making areas where it’s concentrated enough for the local plants and animals to use it rather rare.

   Vasin has long, narrow, stems, reinforced by tough fibers, and appears to be quite closely related to common flax. The fibers it produces are conductors and accumulators of psychic energies, and are thus highly valued in a wide variety of applications. Individual fibers are easily manipulated telekinetically – to the point where, for example, most normal folk can easily feed Vasin Thread through the eyes of needles or even cause a strand to reach out for something they’ve lost down a crack and knot itself around it.

  • When properly woven and alchemically treated, Vasin cloth can be made to change color – and even display complex images – under the user’s mental control or when subconsciously influenced.
  • Alternatively, enhanced Vasin fibers can be used to accumulate and store psychic energy, and so cloth made from them can be used to store psychic energy. String made of such fibers, on the other hand, can be used to store actual psychic powers (it’s traditionally prepared so as to release such effects when unknotted).
  • Vasin rope can be easily animated – and made to lengthen or contract – although only someone with strong psychic potentials can maintain the effect for long.
  • Vasin string can be used to transfer simple thoughts, and is sometimes used as a kind of private intercom or alarm system.
  • Vasin plants are somewhat difficult to gather however; a patch is usually playing host to at least one colony of social insects – and often several – which (as long as they’re within the patch) show a loose hive mind, and are capable of using their own diffuse psychic potential to animate the plants; more than a few incautious gatherers have wound up tied down by the plants and devoured by the insects. A more cautious approach – and exchanging fertilizer and weeding for some of the older, dying (and, incidentally, most fibrous) plants – is recommended.

   Ralmerith Trees exist simultaneously on the physical and ethereal planes, and so their wood can be used to construct barriers and simple weapons that affect many immaterial creatures. On the other hand, this property cannot be turned off – hence those attempting to carry items made of Ralmerith wood will occasionally encounter areas where they can pass, but their wooden items cannot. Ralmerith trees – and wood – has DR 15/Ghost Touch, and so are very difficult to cut, work, or break.

   Alchemically treated Ralmerith wood can conduct spells and other magical effects between the material and ethereal planes or vice versa. This cannot, however, be turned off – which means that entertaining yourself by tossing fireballs into the ethereal plane is just asking for something nasty to come back the other way. Spellcasters with the ability to reach the ethereal plane can be quite dangerous if they have access to Ralmerith wood and some time to prepare.

   Interestingly, Ralmerith Pollen tends to produce violent allergic responses (or at least sneezing fits) in many immaterial creatures, including – for some reason – immaterial undead.

   Occasional Ralmerith trees have been reported to be attuned to the Astral plane rather than to the Ethereal, but this appears to require intervention by a powerful spellcaster.

   Isensmoke is a low-growing bush with thick leaves and a sticky, plentiful, fast-hardening sap. It’s usually found along the banks of streams and the edges of swamps. The plant accumulates spirit magic, which is released in a wild burst if it’s – say – bitten off and chewed up. That can be quite hard on whatever’s damaging the plant, since it can leave them exposed to assault from the astral or ethereal plane, send them into another plane, or even blast their spirits outright. Coupled with the rarity, the considerable dangers inherent in harvesting Isensmoke makes it a rare and expensive commodity.

   The sap is usually harvested by nicking the trunk and allowing it to flow into small containers, in which it is allowed to dry into small blocks. It’s used to make incense that appeals to spirits (and can be used to empower and bribe them or – in a less pleasant formulation – to drive them off). In less concentrated forms it’s used as a meditation aid, to enhance spiritual and extraplanar perceptions, and in related potions, preparations, and enchantments.

   Illveal bushes pick up, amplify, and rebroadcast the emotions of those nearby. They’re apparently an artificially-modified variety; the original stock simply radiated unease – and lack of appetite. The modified plant is occasionally used to screen areas against mental prying (since they will simply re-radiate a spies curiosity and desire to remain hidden), as a low-grade magical defense for fortifications (since they will re-radiate an attackers anger and fear), and for similar purposes. For the most part, they’re regarded as toys – especially since they’ll need to be regularly “recharged” by taking them back to an area with a lot of spirit magic for a few months to retain their properties.

   Illveal pollen and nectar is occasionally used in potions that induce empathic powers, and honey from bees that have been collecting pollen and nectar from the bushes is supposed to grant anyone who eats it the ability to control – or at least influence – small animals, insect swarms, and similar not-too-bright creatures. Those with psychic powers usually find the honey stimulating and restoring, but its relatively rare.

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