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ID: 4946


March 25, 2008, 10:51 pm

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Cheka Man

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"My god, what is that?"
"Orcweed, sir. Never need a wall with this growing."

Full Description

Orcweed is a tough, ridiculously hardy plant that grows almost anywhere it can find open space. With a stalk nearly as thick as a man’s thumb, shaded a bilious green hue, jagged thorns that jut out in a way reminiscent of orcish tusks, and eye-searingly vivid, powerfully rancid-smelling flowers that thankfully only blossom for a few weeks before withering, it is very definitely a survivor among plants. Even without cultivation, it grows in wild clusters across the countryside,untroubled by much of anything but the hardiest of grazers and the verminous flies that spread the orcweed’s pollen.

Some few settlements have discovered it can be cultivated, however; growing steadily around the year, if dying sections are trimmed away, orcweed can easily reach eight to ten feet in height, with wicked barbs capable of punching through boiled leather and stalks tough and springy enough to withstand an infantry charge, or dissuade most cavalry due to the thorns. For those willing to tolerate the flies that swarm when the orcweed blooms as well as the constant maintenance to keep it from spreading, it makes a fantastic palisade, capable of discouraging even the wildest of attackers - save, perhaps, orcs, who find the smell and color of the flowers appealing, often appearing bedecked in them during the brief blooming season.

Orcweed’s flaws are few, but noticable:
-The thorns are vulnerable to direct fire, which will also tend to scorch the stalk enough to release the vision-inducing fumes into the smoke.
-Orcweed flowers retain their potent stink for close to three months after the initial bloom, with the measurable increase in both flies and appearances by orcish tribes during this time.
-If allowed to die and rot, the pulp in the stalk tends to quickly rot and ferment into a powerfully repulsive sludge that bursts the stalk within a few days, soaking into almost any surface and rendering it unpalatable for anyone with a sense of smell.

Additional Information

Orcweed also has some few medicinal properties, if the side effects can be tolerated.
-The thorns, ground to a powder, can be inhaled through the nose to dull the sense of smell for those who need to work in potent-smelling conditions; unfortunately, for the few weeks it takes for the effects to wear off, the users are prone to spontaneous nosebleeds.
-The flowers, dried and used to brew a tea, produce a purgative effect, but leave the user suffering from a rancid taste in the mouth for several days thereafter.
-Smoke from burning green orcweed can help produce visions in those seeking them, but the hideous odor of the smoke clings to everything touched by it for days.

If harvested and dried, the flowers can often be traded or sold to orcs after the blooming season is past; some chemical component is the flowers’ scent actually smells sweet to the orcish senses, and their spectrum range is skewed such that the flowers actually having a pleasing hue rather than eye-burning.

Unfortunately, convincing the weed to remain in the stand where it is wanted is a difficult task, year-round; if care is not taken, stands of orcweed will rapidly be found blooming in gardens, middens, and in a few cases, chamberpots left too close to an open window during the brief blooming season. Added with the way that orc tribes will tend to show up every few days while the flowers retain their odor, most settlements still prefer a solid wooden wall over the orcweed thicket-wall.


Orcweed, not surprisingly, is not an entirely natural creation. The shamans of an orcish tribe now extinct were responsible for it, seeking to make a plant the tribe could use for decoration (the flowers), utility (the tough, sturdy stalks make excellent carry-poles, and can be used for shamanic visions), and weaponry (for a few weeks, the orcweed’s thorns make excellent spear points).

Unfortunately, the tribe was unaware of how prolific the plant was once bred, as up until the final generation was deemed a success and planted outside, all the former generations had been carefully controlled and kept isolated to keep the botanical breeding from going awry.

Now, orcweed competes fiercely with just about everything else that grows, having no natural predators save the orcs interested in harvesting stands for their own use.

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Comments ( 8 )
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Voted valadaar
March 25, 2008, 10:02
This is quite good! I do have a thing for magical and odd plants and I think I'll be adding this in my next revision of the Unseen Fortress! It will fit in well.
Voted Cheka Man
March 25, 2008, 14:03
You could use the Greendeath in the Fortress too.
Voted MoonHunter
March 25, 2008, 17:01
Another living wall like Qanquen Trees. These types of things allow for a variety of natural forts/ keeps/ etc.

I find this one quite interesting. Magical Genecrafting by Orcish Shamans, there is something you don't hear about every day. I do find that the plant seems to be wearing a red cape, as it is soo super. Perhaps only slowing down a charger or ram, rather than being a near invuneable elastic wall.

It should be somewhat vunerable to fire or something.

Given its properties, why isn't everyone using it? Sure it is annoying stuff and the flies would simply require a large supply of fragrent ointments and tinctures to keep them away, but it is a cheap, relatively easy to make and maintain, fortification wall. Now imagine this stuff augmenting a thinner real wall.

So what is slowing the spread of this down? It seems like kudzu on steroid. It seems like the seeds are spread by being stuck to flies and grazing things. But it should spread easily enough.
March 25, 2008, 22:58
Why isn't everyone using it? Chiefly because whenever it chooses to bloom, the next several months involve anyone with a garden lacerating themselves trying to keep it out of the garden, regular appearances by all manner of orcs, and anyone foolish enough to burn the stalk being uselessly drugged-out for the next day or so, depending on how much smoke they've inhaled.

Each stand only blooms for a few weeks; during this time, the seeds get spread by the flies, but once the blooms dry, there aren't any seeds for them to spread, even though the flowers retain their smell for a while. Orcs tend to home in on the stands during blooming season as well, which cuts down on the amount of flowers left to bloom and produce seeds when the entire stand gets cut down for the tribe's use.

I did add a vulnerability to fire, and a 'oh please kill it before it dies naturally' aspect.
Voted Chaosmark
March 25, 2008, 22:21
I agree with it being vulnerable to fire, and not able to 'bounce off' charging cavalry. It would certainly shred them good though, and it'd take one heck of a rider to get his horse to charge into a mass of this stuff. So, it still provides solid defense, but if you get enough fanatics together (or undead, or elementals, or...), it probably won't hold for exceptionally long.

A good, solid submission. I like it, good job.
March 25, 2008, 23:00
Adjusted it a bit; it'll repel infantry and most cavalry will have trouble convincing their animals to charge it, but a determined enough charge could get through, if they don't mind being lacerated.

I expect a fair number of cavalrymen to get bucked off into it, though.
Voted Blydden
July 31, 2010, 16:40
Hmm. Now I must make an orc druid to go with this astounding plant.

I wonder how a half-orc would feel about it?...

(Also, what do the flowers look like?)
Voted Phaidros
February 25, 2014, 12:44
Interesting plant and backstory, with good uses for who can stomach the smell (or is an Orc). Though I miss a description of how the flower looks like.

The notion of Shamanic gene-crafting opens the possibility of more: maybe the Orcs themselves are a engineered race, or dire-animals are created as "properly Orcish" animals..

I know get an idea for a setting of steampunk Humans and Dwarves versus Orcish hordes supported by genecrafting....

Meanwhile, how do Half-Orcs see the plant?

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