Tuesday, August 18, 2020

D&D: Don't Eat the Purple Lotus

            The so-called purple lotus is a very strange creature. It grows in shallow waters, on ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers. Its bloom closes up at dawn and sinks below the surface during the day. When it emerges to take in the light of stars and the moons, the purple lotus is resplendent in its shimmers glowing from indigo to deep violet. Its petals wither and fall off over time for others to replace them, curling up and taking the appearance of a mound of gold coins under the water, around and beneath the plant. Withered petals turn into decaying muck when scooped up. The oddities do not end there.

Golden Lotus Field by Samantha Genier, Deviantart. ©2013 Samantha Genier.
            These flowers grow in large patches of at least 10 plants, each one about 10’ apart from at least two others. They do not grow below ground, unless they can receive moonlight which they need to survive along with nutrients from the ground. All of them connect through a network of roots. Called a prime, one among them is a sentient being able to see and hear through each of the surrounding plants. Their number indicates how intelligent the prime is: min. 9, +1 for every 10 lotuses above the first 10. It takes about ten years for a prime to sharpen its mind by a mere point. With an Int of 10, it can cast druidic spells as a level 2 cleric, +2 experience levels per point of Int above 10). There isn’t a limit to how intelligent a prime can grow, but anything above 18 is extremely rare. Such large patches usually breed another prime that leaves with 10-40 plants to establish its own colony. The chart below summarizes the progression.

Prime Lotus Intelligence
Number of Plants
Spellcasting Level

            The prime looks like the surrounding plants, unless someone leans over its bloom and observes its pistil, which will reveal a pair of tiny eyes looking back. It can cast its spells through any of the surviving plants. Although it cannot speak, the prime can respond telepathically to visitors able to speak with plants. The prime is also able to produce written material from its leaves, their veins forming a natural script unique to the region. Local monsters with animal intelligence or better have learned to avoid lotus patches.

Purple Lotus: AC 9 (unarmored), HD 1*, 5 hp, MV 30 (10’), AT 1 cloud, D nil, Save F1, Int 1, ML n/a, AL Neutral, Size: S, XP 13.
            Abilities: Cloud of pollen.
Prime Lotus: AC 9 (unarmored), HD 1-10********, 5-50 hp, MV 30 (10’), AT 1 cloud or spell, D nil of by spell, Save F1-10, Int 9-18, ML 7, AL Neutral, Size: S, XP 13-7,000.
            Abilities: Cloud of pollen; spellcasting as a druid (see chart for experience level).

            When disturbed, these plants shoot a cloud of pollen about 30’x30’x30’ large (enough to fill its 10’x10’ space and eight others immediately adjacent). Each lotus can release a new cloud every 3d4 rounds. The pollen acts as a narcotic for anyone failing a saving throw. Each cloud requires a separate roll. Failing the first check results in several penalties: move at 1/3 MV, cannot cast spells, –2 penalty to AC, saves, and attack rolls. With a second failure, victims stand by the closest mound of fake gold and defend their “treasures” against anyone approaching. With a third failure, victims fall unconscious for another 3d4 hours and possibly drown in the shallow water; golden pollen covers their clothes and exposed skins, and takes 3d6 days to come off.

            The prime lotus will cast its spells at anyone or anything threatening its patch. Its intelligence and spellcasting ability drop according to the number of plants killed. If the prime is destroyed, the entire patch withers and dies. If victims are lying unconscious among the plants after the fight ends, the surviving patch will move to another location. A patch can also move at the behest of the prime at MV 30’/Turn (180’/hour or about 1½ mile per day). They pull up their roots and use either the prevailing westward wind or the water’s weak downstream current.
            Purple lotus patches are more common on far eastern coastal lands which possess many rivers, streams, and lakes. In their own way, they are akin to human clans and are able to communicate by discarding one of their own to carry a message to another patch. The prime can cast a create water spell variant maintaining a safe depth for its patch to survive a drought, or raising the surface of an enclosed body of water. The spell lasts for 24 hours and raises the surface level about 1” per hour (2’ per day). The area affected must be no more than 90’ across plus 10’ per HD, otherwise reduce the speed at which the water rises accordingly.

Black Lotus: Far more uncommon than the purple lotus is one that is undead. Those patches have fallen prey to a water hag, a horrid creature that corrupted and cursed them to guard its lair’s entrance below the surface. It is perhaps the only extant case of an undead creature able to cast druidic spells.
            The hag awaits in deeper, darker waters, dragging into her lair victims falling unconscious. Back lotus pollen is poisonous to exposed skin, inflicting 1d4 hp of unhealable damage per day (no save). Magical or natural healing may resume after the pollen wears off. Those who die of this poison rise 1d4+4 hours later as wights. A cleric can Turn a black lotus patch as an undead corresponding to its prime’s HD. The Turn attempt requires a score high enough to result in the destruction of the undead, in which case the entire patch is destroyed. Black lotuses are generally found in bayous, swamps, or waterlogged moors.

Source: The map was cropped and altered from the revised climate chart by Thorfinn Tait, available as a poster map on DTRPG ©2019 Bruce A. Heard. The purple lotuses as fantasy creatures constitute original content ©2020 Bruce A. Heard.

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