The Colossal Water Lily, Liliensa Gigantus Gigantus
With leaves measuring some 3-5 meters in diameter and anywhere from 7-10 meters in length (!), and the ribbed, veined undersurface of intertwined leaves and roots, creating a bizarre, neural-network grid or matrix, the Giant Water Lily is truly a magnificent plant, and one that begs to be used in-game, if for no other reason, than to provide a visual of a natural flora, that seems to naturally belong in a fantastic realm.
As a reference, and for further inspiration, try googling images, ‘Giant Water Lily’.
Nine and a Half Ways to use a Giant Water Lily in a game:
One Griggs are tiny fey with the upper torsos and heads of humans or elves, and the bottom parts of a grasshopper, a sort of grasshopper-taur if you will. These wee creatures prance and play on the flattened floaters, and use the great lilies as gladiatorial arenas as well as concert halls when they play their fiddles and clack their heels in time of merriment.
Two The underside of giant lily can be used as inspiration for the worlds greatest palatial demesne. Perhaps architects of some renown, having studied both the complexity and simplicity of the giant lilys form, and imitated its structure by constructing a wondrous palace for the ruler of some far-flung kingdom.
Three The Sisters of the Unwound Spiral lie on their backs upon the monstrous lilies, by the hundreds, and chant and meditate for forty-eight straight hours. This odd spectacle, and an annual event, takes place during early fall, sometime after the first harvest, as onlookers, gawkers, and the holy gather on the banks of the River-Swamp and stare at the Sisters ritual. The Sisters believe that the giant water lilies were once the very stepping-stones their goddess used, when she first strode forth across these lands in antiquity.
Four In the many legends of the Slow Moving River Clans, the water lily is spoken about with great reverence and pride. It is depicted by the clansmen, not unlike the Norsemens Sagas had depicted Yggdrasil. The Clansmen believe their exists the Grandmother Lily, a plant one hundred feet across and with roots that descend into the very core of the Earth. The dewdrops that form on her surface every dawn, are called Grandmothers Pearls by the clansmen, and are said to suffuse the drinker with great and simple wisdoms.
(The girls name, Lily, here among the clansmen, is considered one of great fortune destiny for the girl so named, and is indeed one of the more common appellations here)
Five A great race is run once a year along the meandering waters of a certain river, studded here and there with giant water lilies. Each year young men and women participate and compete in earnest in order to earn the prestige and the prizes that go to the winner. The race is long distance and fraught with difficulties. Aside from the occasional unfriendly river denizens to fend off, there is the need for patience and willpower as sometimes the lilies float apart, and a long wait ensues, as the contestant is not allowed to touch his feet to any surface other than the lilys pad.
Six Rumours among sages suggest that the colossal water lily is indeed an ancient and divine creation, and further speculate, that in some way, all the inherent secrets of any body of water which supports the floating plants, can be discerned by lying prone and motionless on the lilys back for as many days and weeks as it takes to achieve gnosis, after having smoked the dried up and ground, pink and milk-white flowers of the lily in question, of course.
Seven A malignant and nearly indistinguishable relative of the Colossal Water Lily could be a mix of giant lily and Venus Fly Trap. Perhaps a single step onto the innocent looking platform of this creature compels it to enact a sucking mechanism, which plunges the unfortunate stepper, beneath the murky waters, as the lily pad folds in twain violently, and where upon, he or she is molested and quickly punctured by the lilys countless, snake-like roots.
Eight A ceratin cult which dwells amidst the bogs and swamplands, believes in taming and revering the ‘River Spirit’ by offering its fattest and most robust newborn babe of the season, and leaving it sittng in the middle of a giant lily pad, leaving it for the Spirit to come and claim. What sort of creature this may be is anyone’s guess. Chances are, the PCs will not take kindly to this tribal practice, and the chances are even greater, that they will no doubt face the Great River Spirit in a pitched battle, hopping from pad to pad. Frogger anyone?
Nine-and-a-Half Where better than to discover or come upon an imp or familiar,sitting in lotus stance of course, than in the center of the lily pad. The peculiar flora serves as the perfect stage for a PC audience, as they quietly comes upon and witness the forbidden beauty of a basking nymph, swanmay, or dryad. Where better than atop a giant lily, can one stumble upon their yoda-like guru, teacher, or master? Perhaps an ingredient of a particular spell calls for the bottom-most root of the Giant Lily, and some perilous swimming needs to be undertaken, perhaps one particular, indistinguishable, plant of this species, is really a polymorphed queen of a bygone age, awaiting release from her magical prison.
In closing, when selecting river plants for your wetlands campaign, do not forget the magnificent, Liliensa Gigantus Gigantus. I hope to eventually make this part of an open codex, "Nine and a Half Ways to Use A…" featuring bizarre plants and animals of our natural world.