Campaign of the Month: January 2014
Greyhawk 937 CY: The Age of Steam
Flora of The Flaness
Flowers of The Flanaess
That region of Oerik that we call the Flanaess is home to many species of plants and flowers, both common and rare. Some are beautiful, someare benign, some are ugly, and a few are deadly. Many are known across the planes in many worlds (albeit by different names), while some are unique to the Oerth and the Flanaess. Most scholars have concentrated on those that are dangerous to human life, such as the lyrannikin, needlemen, vampire cactus, and shambling mounds. Other less adventurous scholars, including the illustrious Savant-Sage, have chosen to focus on the larger non-intelligent forms of plant life – the baobab, deklo, bronzewood, and oak, among others. Relatively few have found it worthwhile to make a study of the smaller types of flora.
Wildflowers blossom in most places across the Flanaess except for the far north and those lands so devastated by the recent wars that nothing will grow in their soil. During the months of Planting, Flocktime, Wealsun, and Reaping, travelers will pass through fields exploding with color.The central Flanaess states of Furyondy, Nyrond, Veluna, and the Urnst and Ulek states tend to be especially colorful, as does the plain surrounding the Free City of Greyhawk (it should be noted that this isby design, however).
A partial list of these flowers and other plants follows. Those with unique characteristics, whether useful or malign, will be described later.
Devil’s Claw Creeper
Dragon’s Blood Bush
Johydee’s Lace (in the lands of the former Great Kingdom)
Pansies (known as “elfweed” to the dwarves)
Priest in the Pulpit
Trunk Cactus (Saguaro)
The baneberry is a small bushy plant with large leaves and dense clusters of small (about the size of a lady’s thumbnail) white flowers. It is found generally in open woods and thickets. The red fruit of the baneberry grows in clusters of 6-10 small, round, berries and is, as the name implies, highly poisonous. The northern variety has smaller, darker leaves and white fruit, but is otherwise the same.
The bladderpod grows in hot, arid regions such as the Bright Desert and the fringes of the Sea of Dust. Growing to about knee high, the plant sends out yellow flowers on short stems in the early spring, or what passes for spring in its environment. The bladderpod has saved the life of more than one thirsty traveler, for the finger-length fruit is plump, juicy, and nutritious.
Devil’s Claw Creeper
Found in the Bright Desert and the arid grasslands of the West, the Creeper is a coarse plant with stems lying on the ground. The yellowish-green flowers are unremarkable, but the seed pods are eerily similar to the claws of the Bone Devil, which some scholars now call the Osyluth, a lesser baatezu. Dried and hardened in a fire, the pods are sometimes attached to nets used by the tribesmen of the area to make it more difficult to escape.
Dragon’s Blood Bush
While not native to the Flanaess, this small bush from the Amedio Jungle has been successfully grown in the Hold of the Sea Princes. The bush grows low to the ground with sword-shaped leaves that are about 1 foot long. The savages of the Amedio jungle believe that these plants only bloom where the blood of a dragon has fallen. They coat their arrowheads with the juice from the heart of the plant, which has mildly poisonous effects including nausea and a loss of strength. Hold alchemists have reported that this juice can be concentrated and rendered into a contact poison that causes total paralysis for up to a day. It is believed that the Scarlet Brotherhood has learned of this plant and its properties.
Found in the Sea of Dust, the Dust Flower looks like fleshy rose made of dust. Closer examination reveals that the ‘flower’ is actually a growth that exudes a sticky fluid. Dust sticks to the growth and the flower draws its nourishment from there. Cleaned of dust, the flower is edible and full of sweet juice.
Found generally on wooded mountain slopes or in wooded valleys, the Fairy Slipper is leafy plant with a few stems in a clump. The plant takes its name from the flower, which resembles a small (about finger-length) slipper. The woodfolk believe that the fairies cultivate these plants, and they will avoid disturbing them at all costs. If by chance they do, they will leave an offering to placate the fairies -salt, a pail of milk, or a piece of leather are typical gifts.
Found in the Vast Swamp, Hanging Moss has long, forked stems up to 20 feet long, colored gray-green, and often grows hanging from other trees. The flowers are very small and white. The stem contains a fine reddish core, almost like human hair. This core is very fragile, except on certain varieties that grow deep in the swamp. In these species, the core of the stem is still thin as a human hair, but is stronger than the strongest rope. The assassins of the Scarlet Brotherhood prize this variety for the making of thin, easily concealed garrotes. Hanging Moss has another, more sorrowful, name to the elves: The Hair of the Maiden. The legend goes like this: long before the Twin Cataclysms shook the Oerth and humans migrated into the Flanaess, a small tribe of elves lived in the Menowood. The Menowood was much larger then, and places of it were very dark and evil. Lyrannikin and other evil plants abounded in these spots. One day a beautiful elven girl wandered away from the tribe’s usual territory into a region of the wood close to the Vast Swamp. One of the lyrannikin saw her from afar and lusted after her. He pursued her with his black heart aflame, and she fled in to the Swamp, her red hair trailing behind her like a banner. After many miles, she could go no further. Calling on the name of Rillifane, she cried out for help. The god responded, turning her into a large tree, with moss replacing her hair. Foiled, the lyrannikin cursed her to remain a tree forever.
The Ice Lily is found only in the Cold Marshes, now under the dominion of Iuz, the Old One. There is considerable debate in scholarly circles as to whether or not this is actually a plant. Regardless, the Ice Lily blooms in the coldest months of the year, often sending out roots into the snow instead of the ground. Its flower resembles a crystal rose, though it is flexible, not brittle. All attempts to grow them elsewhere have failed, even in magically created ‘coldhouses’, so it seems that some property of the Marshes is at work here. Prior to the Wars, spellcasters exploring the area reported that this plant could be used as a substitute material component in many cold-based spells, including Ice Storm and Resist Cold.
These large white blossoms bloom in the depths of the Gnarley Forest, and are highly desired by the wealthy in the Free City as decorations.
Several varieties of lotus grow across the Flanaess, but the rarest is the black lotus, symbol of the Baklunish goddess Xan Yae. These grow only in areas sacred to the goddess, and are highly prized by her followers. If the petals are eaten raw, certain madness will result. However, careful preparation will yield a powder that, when inhaled, gives great clarity of mind. Any mental tasks attempted by the user become easier. Time seems to slow for those affected, enabling warriors to react more quickly, and mages to memorize spells at double the normal rate. The effects last for approximately an hour, but it is not safe to breath more powder for at least a week. A second dose taken within a week can lead to addiction. This humble sage has seen the drooling, weeping, wreck of a warrior laid low by this addiction, and would strongly caution the foolish to avoid it.
Found only in the Cairn Hills north of the Free City of Greyhawk, these unusual flowers change color with the phases of the moons. Some are tied to Luna, others to Celene, and some to both moons. The flower will be a brilliant white on the full moon, slowly fading through the colors to black as the moon wanes, and increasing again to white as the proper moon waxes. These flowers are glorious to see on a Midsummer’s night, shining brightly under the light of the moons. The more practically minded of you should note that these flowers are used in the brewing of a potion of Rainbow Hues, and as material components in the spells Color Spray, Prismatic Spray, Prismatic Wall, and Prismatic Sphere.
Growing in thickets and clearing of wooded areas, these rare climbing plants have blue or violet star-shaped flowers with a yellow ‘beak’ in the center. In the early summer this plant bears a greenish berry that slowly turns red as summer wears on. The berry is slightly toxic at first, but grows progressively more poisonous as summer wears on. By early fall when the fruit begins to fall, a small drop of the juice of this berry is enough to condemn a strong man to a hideous, painful death. The victim breaks out in bleeding sores, a high fever, and the skin becomes hypersensitive, so that any touch causes great pain. It is highly prized by the minions of Iuz and the priesthood of Hextor in the Great Kingdom, who use it as an aid in interrogation.
These colorful flowers are best known for their habit of closing up at night, and opening their blooms as the sun rises. A poultice made from these blossoms gathered at dawn will greatly speed
the healing of wounds.
Found only in the Sea of Dust, these short-lived flowers bloom only after one of the rare rain showers of that region. They are colorful periwinkle-like flowers. Little certain knowledge of them exists save for the fact that they last only for a day. However, the inhabitants of the Sea of Dust prize them highly, so there may be some beneficial property unknown to us at this time.
This daisy-like flower with drooping petals is found in swamps and wet meadows, where it grows up to 5 feet tall. Inside the flower is a greenish-yellow ball of pollen which can cause severe distress if inhaled, as this humble sage can attest to. Evidently the plant reproduce by dropping pollen when an animal brushes it. The sneezing of the animal helps the pollen to remain airborne for a longer period of time. It is a primary component in Dust of Sneezing and Choking.
The trunk cactus might be considered a tree due to its size (up to 50 feet tall), but it more properly belongs with the flowers due to its structure. The tall, thick trunk is covered with spines, but the inside is very juicy. If one cuts the top off of one of the smaller plants, hollows out the inside, and replaces the top, in about an hour the hollow will be filled drinkable liquid. The Trunk Cactus is found in the Bright Desert as well as the Sea of Dust. Some adventurers have reported seeing treant-like creatures resembling the cacti moving among large patches of Trunk Cactus, but these reports are unconfirmed. It is known that needlemen generally dwell near these patches.
This species grows primarily in the Sulhaut Mountains. The bushy body of the plant grows close to the ground, and can grow as high as 15 feet with a width as much as 30 feet. The flowers bloom in high summer with a tulip-like shape. These flowers are typically red, but blue and yellow varieties are know. Some of these blossoms can grow as large as 6 feet. There is a Bakluni legend that says giants cultivated these flowers to use as gifts to their loved ones.
The bush has 9-inch long dagger-shaped leaves. The Suel believe that these plants only bloom where the blood of an enemy has fallen (which has its basis in reality). The Suel warriors sometimes coat their spears with the sap that drips from the leaves of the plant, which has poisonous effects including dizziness and paralysis. This same sap also contains seeds, which sprout from the area where the victim decomposes. This small bush is found in the Sulhaut
and Crystalmist Mountains, and on the Tilvanot Peninsula. Today, the Scarlet Brotherhood cultivates this plant for its own purposes, using blood as fertilizer. Other sub-species of this plant have been recorded.
Found only in the Lendore Isles, these flowers bloom only right before and after a thunderstorm. They are colorful flowers consisting of pink, blue and yellow petals. The flowers last only for 24 hours, usually opening a full hour before a rain shower even begins. It is said the flower gets its weather predicting power from the god Lendor, but in actuality it senses the change in air pressure and static electricity.
The luquipod grows primarily in the Crystalmist Mountains. The plant is about 2 feet tall and produces orange flowers in mid to high summer. The green berry-like fruit is extremely juicy and can provide a good deal of water to a parched individual. Careful examination fo the berry’s oval seeds are required, for a similar plant with pointy tipped seeds has poisonous fruit. This species is currently thriving in the Valley of the Mage and Ull.
Found only in the western Dry Steppes, the pollenrose looks like a flaky rose made of pollen. Closer examination reveals that the rose is actually a leaf that exudes a sappy fluid. Pollen sticks to the leaf and the plant draws its nourishment from there. Cleaned of pollen, the flower is edible and full of sweet juice. An adapted dusty version of this plants still thrives on the fringes of the Sea of Dust today.
The simmering thrives on the boiling water of the Simmering River. The brown flower thrives on the shoreline of the near-boiling water of the channel, and has a wilted appearance – hence the name. At the base of the river where it empties into the Jerlea Bay, the plant is sparse. Further upstream in the Hellfurnace Mountains it exists in abundance, and seems unaffected by the constant ash that infests the area.
The timorous grows primarily in the Yeomanry area during late spring and early summer. It produces bright yellow daisy-like flowers that have a red streak along the petal edges. Below the surface, the plant grows from a large bulb measuring about 4-5 inches across. When the plants senses movement within a 1-2 foot radius it will withdraw suddenly into the ground, nestled safe inside its bulb. It does not emerge again for 3d4 rounds.
The Utoak tree has all the appearances of an oak tree with one exception: an Utoak tree is only 5 feet tall. Utoak is in most other respects equal to oak, and can be used for most of the same purposes. This species is now thought to only exist in the Hornwood Forest.