Libris Monstrum #36A: Plants Revisited Part 1
Hello my friends! Last time we discussed plants we managed to go through quite a bit of stuff but there is still so much more that we can talk about. This article is going to be a little special and come with two parts. The first you are reading and it will get into some of the fun and strange plants that can be found throughout the world of D&D. Some we have covered but there are many, many more. The next part will come sometime in the next week or so as a bonus article for you all and it will feature any real-world plant-being myths I can find.
First off, I need to preface this section with the fact that not all the information in it is going to be 100% accurate in all likelihood. I don’t have all the books on hand and will be a making some assumptions or linking certain plants to certain universes more strongly than they should be. Feel free to correct me, as I appreciate a better understanding. Now, let’s start with creatures from the world of Eberron since a 5E book came out for that this week. There are a few plant creatures found in the late era of 3rd Edition that have entries about their place in the Eberron world. It is tough to say which of these were created with the setting in mind or just happened to fit in there. One such creature is the briarvex, an interesting plant with a humanoid form. What makes this unique among other humanoid plants is the fact that it is naturally evil. Now, there are plenty of killer plants but this moss-covered beast has a natural hatred towards treants which makes it an especially interesting insert for nature-focused adventures and games. Another intelligent and dangerous plant from the Demon Wastes is the aptly named demonthorn mandrake. This terrible monstrosity will make any adventurers day horrible on not just the Material Plane but others. Finally I want to take a moment to point out a couple lesser plant creatures from a Dragon magazine issue that featured the Forest of Flesh. Issue 364 mentions some wild plants that really add some great flavor. One is the simple ghoul’s rose. While this putrid smelling plant might just be a proxy for the real world corpse flower, it definitely seems like the type of thing that might attract ghouls and pop up in areas where the creatures are abundant. Another awesome plant is the stormflower which reminds me of the shocker lizard. Able to discharge an electrical shock, it might not be dangerous alone but a field of them could take down all kinds of hearty creatures!
Next let’s move on to Athas, the world of Dark Sun. Despite being a desert world, there are still plenty of plants to watch out for. Many of these are, of course, cacti and can easily be good challenges in any campaign that features a significant desert. Bloodgrass is a lovely plant that looks like simple grass but may as well be classified as a type of vampire. Its tendrils will wrap around a victim and begin to suck its blood as it bores into the victim’s flesh. Then there is the hunting cactus. What would Dark Sun be without a killer psychic cactus? Even crazier than the fact that these things shoot spines at prey and then moves in to feed on the paralyzed victim, is the fact that these aren’t even native to Athas. They are strange, alien creatures with no natural enemies! Finally let’s talk about the brain seed. This plant is susceptible to the defiling magic of Athas and, thus, hates wizards. More than that this psionic plant dominates, lures, and feeds on whatever it can. I’ll never get over the idea of psionic plants but, hey, that’s Dark Sun for you!
Last, but not least, I want to mention the razorvine of Planescape. This hearty and terrible plant is a vine with heart shaped black leaves. You might think that such a plant is dangerous because of some magical ability or unique thorns or some other wild aspect of its biology. While the plant does have dangerously sharp, serrated edges, its true danger is its tenacity and resistance to things that normally harms plants (like fire). Such a rampant, resistant weed with the side effect of tearing up whatever walks through or climbs over it is, itself a force to be reckoned with.
Now let’s get to a few plant creatures that aren’t quite so plant-like. These are plants that take on more unique forms. While we have already mentioned the likes of the vegepygmy and the briarvex, there are plenty of others. One of the primary among these is the treant, or ent for Tolkien fans. These walking, talking trees are intelligent and ancient. They protect forests and combat those who would do harm to their homes. It would be remiss to not even mention them! Perhaps one of my favorites is the myconid. I wanted to say this one is underutilized but I find it ends up getting a pretty good amount of love when I think about it. These guys are mushroom people with a variety of abilities. From spores that allow them to communicate telepathically with other creatures to bringing corpses to life with their spores to act as servants, myconids are just plain weird. For sentient plants, though, I think we need to stop there, otherwise there might not be much to talk about in part 2 when we talk about real-world myths!
Other Fantasy Games
While there are dozens of games we could get into, with many more if we include science fiction as well, I am only briefly step into the possibilities to draw inspiration from with something I am pretty familiar with: Warcraft. The World of Warcraft is, as I have mentioned before, a very well established fantasy universe. Among the things developed in it are its magics and primal beings. Plants play no small role among these, especially when it come to the night elves. There are trees of immense size and power, so interconnected with the world and its people that they help link them to the plane of nature and dreams. The corruption of such trees also has lead to the formation of the opposite plane, that of nightmare. Beyond that there are great creatures that act as natures guardians, some social and able to be reasoned with and others primal and dangerous. There are treants which run the gamut and even larger and older Ancients which are like gigantic ents, sometimes with tusks, that embody aspects like lore and war. Azeroth also has ambulatory flowers and other dangerous plant monsters, along with the bog beasts and their kind which are similar to shambling mounds of D&D. There are also fungal giants and Warcrafts own tribal mushroom folk of Sporegar. Honestly, I could go on and on but the point is the lore of Warcraft is a great place to look for inspiration in countless ways!
Soon we will talk about things like dryads and leshy and the other real-world myths. If there is something I missed, a favorite plant I never mentioned, or something I should include next time just let me know in the comments below!!!