Friday, 1 June 2018

The Graverobber's Guide to Gardening

I like magic to be made of actual words, rather than a set of mechanics, numbers or bonuses to this or that.

One of the many reasons for this preference is that players can read a spell description both in and out of character. The magic exists within the fiction of the world, rather than as a little meta note on a character sheet ("1d6 damage, 60ft range", that kind of thing).

Same with magic items. There are a bunch of strange plants in my world, so here's a guide to those that might be useful for the players to know about.

It's written as an in-universe artefact that players could buy in a shop, or find in a greenhouse. Also serves the added bonus of getting across worldbuilding info in a gameable context - the only way that worldbuilding ever really matters.

I'm always adding to it, so feel free to do the same.



by Pirro, amateur gardener and retired graverobber


pot golems
Little round chaps made of clay, these are handy for adventurers to plant things in. They follow you around, and protect whatever’s growing in them.

Casts a tiny bit of light that seems to work just like sunlight. Handy for growing in dungeons or catacombs.

tajirian staff
A sanctified butterfly net. Bugs caught within it become loyal, insofar as a bug can hold allegiance, until it is next used.

wise man’s glass
Sunlight, shone through this little magnifying glass, turns to moonlight, and vice versa. Might be good for growing certain faerie plants.


These huge plants grow from the silt in still water. Their leaves float atop the surface and are huge and hardy enough to carry a person’s weight.

brambleroot tree
Its thorny roots lie close to the surface, animating to snare those who step over them unwillingly. Called the “flamingo tree” because of how its white leaves turn red after it feeds.

crabshell mushrooms
The cap of this fungus is round, flat and hard. Good for a makeshift shield.

A riverside flower whose thick pollen stains the skin like dye. Traditionally used in makeup and facepaint, these days only really seen during the three Festivals of Masks.

The pale elves of the northern woods make traditional clothing from the leaves of this plant.

gant’s root
This fiery and bitter root, when chewed, is said to allow the user to speak with spirits of the dead. Some legends vary and state that it simply keeps vengeful dead at bay, its strong flavour stopping them from sucking one’s soul out through the mouth. Either way, popular at Spirits’ March.

Grows a foot a day, straight up a wall or surface. Climbing it is as easy as walking up stairs.

A plant whose flower contains a key matching the lock its seed was planted in. The little plant normally takes a week to flower.

The leaves are thick with a fleshy substance that fills them like gel fills aloe. Can be dried and made into jerky.

Rank in taste but nutritious, it grows like mould on stagnant water. The principle diet of trollspawn before they grow legs and emerge from their birthing ponds.

shaking vine
These dry and brittle weeds susurrate at the presence of certain magics, such as things turned invisible.

Carnivorous plants that wander around on their roots, searching out small creatures to digest in their acidic, mouth-like flowers. Grow them, with caution, for their roots as a potion ingredient.

sweetheart plums
Woodland elves brew a wine from these fruits that functions a little like a love potion.

The unplanted bulb emits a glow, too faint to notice in daylight but such that it can be seen in pitch black darkness. (I am attempting to grow a variant that casts light like a candle flame.)

wall anemone
A strange and fibrous plant that grows in canyons. What appears to be its flower is in fact a fleshy, poisonous appendage.

Called tournescalier by the elves, its plucked flower swivels around when held, always pointing to the nearest staircase. The flower dies and withers one hour after being picked.


bug ghosts
I don’t believe in them, but the old gnome who runs the supply shop in Last Chance sprinkles his vegetable patch with holy water every new moon, and his cabbages are flawless.

corpse bees
A grim but necessary part of gardening in dungeons. They brew crimson honey in ribcage hives. Supposedly if you can stomach it, it has healing properties.

pixie moths
The powder scales from their wings can cause everything from itchiness to drowsiness to hallucinations. Lead them away with the glint of gold instead of a flame.

tantalian slugs
They secrete a goo that increases the sensations of pain and touch. Supposedly a party piece at elven orgies. Keep the greedy beggars out of your plants with a little salt on the soil.


Most legends don’t specify the myriad flowers that bloom wherever Alda, Lady of Spring, walks upon the ground. The few legends that do mention one that has never been found in reality; a white hibiscus whose petals are fine as glass. Could it really be a fiction?

divine pomme
An apple with skin like alabaster and flesh like pure gold. The dish that the great hero Kyros served to the ocean spirit Selene in the old legend that inspired the modern Sellenic Games, held biannually in Meriscella. In the modern trial, champions must bring the finest dish they can to a great feast at the end of the Games’ second week. (Once someone tried to claim they had actually found the apple, I think? It was an illusion or something.)

Not so much a legend any more as we know it’s real, but the world of the fey contains innumerable plants still not discovered! If I were still in the graverobbing business I’d happily lose myself in that place… though I suppose that’s the trick.

An old dryad, the only male one and said to be the kindly king of all their kind. The sap from his luxuriant beard bolstered heroes’ strength in old tales. One of the principle servants of Cairen, Prince of Autumn, just like Selene is for Alda.

the world tree
Supposedly far beyond the eastern steppes, an enormous tree holds up the sky. Travelling rabbitfolk tell of roots like hills, and branches so big that entire forests grow on them.

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