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ID: 5965

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December 29, 2009, 12:42 am

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The Spirit of Urban flora

By:

"A demonic plant? Don't be daft, go research something useful to society."

"But-but the p-plant! It's evil! It must be destroyed!"

"Now the flowers bloom all year round thanks to the most holy Spirit of Urban flora. It just takes a little blood."

The Spirit of Urban flora

General Information

There is a small town of around a thousand people located in the high mountains. This town is off the main trade routes but has of late come to be of great interest to mercantile guilds and individual businessmen; apparently there is a burgeoning demand for wicker baskets and small plants of all kinds, even those which should be unable to survive at such altitudes and temperatures. Those who make the journey and return tell of barricades and cordial yet secretive residents, and a fantastically lush town; abounding with flowers and hanging baskets.

This town is the current home of the Spirit of Urban Flora.

Potential Plot hooks

  • Citizens fleeing their home in the mountains accumulate in regional centre. Local ruler sends party to investigate why they left. The villagers want a crusade launched against their former home town, declaring it to be under the sway of a demonic plant overlord. The local ruler laughs it off but his spy chief wants someone to have a look around.
  • Great profits abound! The merchants on the trail and in the local towns are all talking about the money to be made selling wicker, baskets and plant samples to the mad folks up in the mountains. Get in there and grab a piece of pie; but is there something seriously wrong in the town.
  • A mage has contacted you and asked you to find his colleagues. They were off doing some absurd demonology research in the backwaters. He gives you the location of the tavern they said they were staying at. The landlord remembers a bunch of weirdoes in dresses talking about demons, kites and whatnot. But they wouldn't listen to his advice; the town up the mountains is cursed. Stay away.
  • The Baron of a wealthy land wants a new plant for his spacious gardens, the rebels want a propaganda victory in stealing it and the necromancer wants a new weapon. Yet all of them direct you to the same place.
  • If the PCs have the Chum Bucket 5963 they may be contacted by a group of mages doing some research into just that type of thing. They say they'll meet them at the same tavern as above and this time they do. They take the Chum Bucket off the party but abscond with it in the morning, leaving a note saying they're headed up the mountains to look into something similar

Back-story

Thirty years before the present a demon of immense power and intelligence was banished from the mortal world. It took the life’s of eleven priests and left the area of the binding a wasteland. Even so, the exorcism was unable to completely destroy the demon. One of these fragments of tattered energy was caught on the wings of a bee; fleeing the site of the binding. The fragment was carried to the side of small track out from the town. The bee landed on a beautiful red flower and set about pollinating the plant. The demon spirit diffused into this plant. This fragment was the most intelligent, if such a term can be applied, of the remaining demonic spirit but lacked any of the inherent evil of its originator. And so it slept for a time; the plant nourishing the fragment and in return the essence manipulating the minds of any grazers to keep them away from the plant.

A young farmhand drove his flock along the path into town one summer morning and noticed the sheep shying away from one side of the track. Spotting the flower he thought it was just the thing for the object of his affection - the daughter of the mayor. Being ripped from the ground awoke the demon fragment within the plant; it had faint and vague memories of the type of large animal which was carrying him. Patience came easy to the fragment and so it tolerated being crushed to a chest, flattened and then stuck into a tiny patch of soil suspended from a wall.

The people of the town began to notice that plants in the town itself lasted longer and seemed more vibrant than in the surrounding meadows and valleys, especially those in hanging baskets. The local priests sensed something but were unable to determine the nature of the force acting upon their town. A son of the town returned after many years studying the magical arts and was set to investigate the mystery. He found tendrils of dark energy, invisible to the naked eye, running through the entire town and centred on the flower basket adorning the house of the mayor. He urged the townsfolk to destroy all the plants in the town as he sensed a taint present in the basket.

The demonic figment rose up in self defence and released a massive cloud of spores through the entire town. Some people on the outskirts managed to flee but the majority had flower baskets or decorative plants in their homes and so were unable to escape. These spores contained something of the latent demonic power and drove the town’s people into a rage; they ripped apart the mage and burnt down the temples and guard house. The demonic powers it suddenly discovered it possessed horrified the spirit fragment and so it released another wave of spores, which calmed the residents; but in doing so ripped out their personalities and free will. Permanent physiological changes were made to them, their offspring to would display the same characteristics. The plant was now left with a town of what effectively amounted to zombies, along with evidence visible to anyone passing that evil was manifest in the town. Whilst having no malevolent intentions the demon soul fragment is determined to survive.

The fragment turned instructed its thralls to return to a semblance of ordinary life, but centred on the worship of the Spirit of Urban flora. Using the only magic it had at its disposal it began reproducing and seeking to spread beyond the village; blood was the catalyst for massive growth in the town as the fragment began copying itself and seeking to make it mobile. For this it has instructed the townsfolk to begin buying wicker, for new baskets and new varieties of plants to find seeds which disperse in the wind.

Combat - Minions

Barricade Guards

Before anyone is in a position to threaten the actual fragment itself they would need to break the barricade blocking the single winding track to the town; manned by those of the former townsfolk who had military training. The blockade consists of a number of stakes, carts, wagons and tree trunks nailed together and seemingly joined with creeping tendrils; the entire edifice is about twenty feet high and seven wide. The guards are willing to talk to anyone who approaches and even send down a representative in - what else but a hanging basket - to trade with travellers. However, no-one is permitted beyond the barricade and any attempts to do so will be answered with arrows, swords and staves. The guards are lightly armed and armoured but care nothing for injury and only stop when physically separated from their means of locomotion.

Mountain Perils

Should the guards be overcome the adventurous party must ascend the road up the mountainside. In contrast to the other barren slopes the mountain is overrun with creeping ivy, trees and low-lying shrubs. Should anyone touch any of the vegetation or trip on one of the creepers laying across the road the fragment will become aware of their presence. The shrubs will whip themselves into a frenzy, trying to graze on of the party with their poisonous spines, trees will topple onto the road without warning and tendrils of ivy will wrap themselves around ankles and drag unfortunates over the edge. Getting past these plants would be a test of an adventurer's skills.

Townsfolk

If the mountain road is negotiated the townsfolk will charge the party en-masse from just over the Cliffside. Armed with shovels, pitchforks and whips they will seem akin to a zealous mob driven into a frenzy. They will be weak and easily overcome, with one good blow knocking them down. But there are a lot of them and they will crush anyone they can. They seem to have a greenish tinge to their skins and slight outcroppings of bark or bone on their temples. After the majority of the townsfolk are dead the remainder will flee into the town, disappearing into the shadows and overgrown alleyways.

In town threats and penultimate showdown

After entering the town any surviving intruders would be set upon by swarms of bees, hybrid dog-plant creatures and beset by clouds of spores which can cause anything from incontinence through insanity to death.

In the square in front of the mayoral house can be found the abomination that was once the mayor's daughter. This is the mouth of the fragment, acting as an almost prophetic figure and leading the final defence of the fragment. She will offer a truce to the party, leave now and swear to never tell a soul the nature of the town and they will go unimpeded; if threatened she may even through the remaining material wealth of the village into the bargain {a fair amount of money, some gems, heirlooms and a large number of ornately weaved baskets}. She has great leaves forced into her back which provide her with massive amounts of energy. Her skin changes colour as she wills, allowing her to more easily blend into the surroundings. She has a long spear made of bark and tipped with bone from the mage who originally detected the fragment, which emits a great heat that can be felt from a good few feet away. The creature moves extremely rapidly and is very acrobatic, flipping and jumping over swings with ease. However it/she will never stray more than twenty feet from the flower basket; magically inclined characters or very perceptive normal folk might notice the umbilical cord like vine running from basket to the creature. Cutting this will cripple the being, it will move much slower and swing weakly all the while pleading for someone to make it one with the spirit again.

The remaining villagers will charge from within the former mayor's residence following the death of the creature. They will be the same as they were earlier, even down to the attacks they make. However, the proximity of their most holy spirit will inspire them and so they will need to be taken down and then cut into pieces to prevent them from rising up again. Even if unconscious or seemingly dead the fragment will animate their bodies into attacking. Maybe the first former shop keep to die can rise from the floor headless to illustrate this point.

The big confrontation

Part One

The fragment will allow the party time to recover from their immediate wounds, provided they do not make a move towards the flower basket. It will even allow them to walk away and collect the bride they were offered from the cells of the ruined guardhouse and depart the town in peace.
As soon as anyone puts one foot closer to the flower basket the fragment will lash out. This is a purely magical assault. Demonic energies will boil from the ground and rip apart the house around the flower basket, which will remain hovering amidst the carnage. The rubble from the house, along with anything to close to it {townsfolk corpses, discarded weapons, advancing party members} will be sucked up into a whirling maelstrom of dark energy. This prevents anyone from approaching the basket and sends any arrows or weapons flung at the basket flying back around at the party.
Spells will still work on the demonic tornado and the aim is to deal half the amount of the damage it would have taken to kill the prophet/mayor's daughter/abomination. If this is done then the whirlwind fails and the basket goes flying into a wall. Anything designed to combat demons or dark magic, from holy water to icons of faith will also do significant damage to the storm, which will appear to surprise the fragment as it will recoil away from the party and throw spiralling debris at anyone who tries to repeat the success.
If the party does nothing or takes too long to deal the damage the separated parts of the villagers will begin to crawl together and a dark tendril of energy will creep towards the abomination's body. What this leads to ought to be obvious and is only meant to make the party hurry or be a time check. Unless they dispatched the townsfolk with ease.
Once the basket has been flung into the wall, part two begins.

Part Two

Tiny roots will push through the wicker of the basket and dive into the ground. Half a second later a tremor will knock the party to the ground. Upon reaching their feet they will see five massive tentacles smash through the ground around the basket. Each is about thirty feet long and as wide as a human male. One of these tentacles will delicately wrap around the basket and draw it back into the ground; retreating beneath the surface to disappear from the party's view.
The remaining four tentacles will attempt variously to crush, whip and throw party members. They will also throw any debris still left in the square and appear to work in unison. If one tentacle rears up to smash someone that person may find another ram it from the side as it dodges.
The tentacles are hardy but still only plants. Fire will severely damage them, with a tentacle rolling against the ground to extinguish the flames. A clever PC might manage to get two or more tentacles tangled up and then set them alight; doing so would require cunning and excellent acrobatic skills. It is impossible to simply cut through the tentacles in one blow, although after about five man-cleaving chops in the same spot the tentacle would probably be cut in half.
After destroying the four tentacles the final stage of the battle begins.

Part Three

As the last of the tentacles falls to the ground dead the PCs hear a distant rustling. It seems to have no visible source but grows louder and louder. Something small and round darts out of the hole left by the fifth tentacle. It is the flower basket. As the PCs rush towards it the rustling reaches a peak and dozens upon dozens of flower baskets come flying out of the hole. Some are small window baskets; some are the size of tables and look custom built. In all fifty flower baskets shoot out of the hole. Ten of these fly off and position themselves around the square. The remaining baskets move together slowly. Roots and soil interwoven with demonic power and the odd bright spot of natural magic coalesce into a twenty foot tall humanoid shape. The wicker work of the baskets will flow like a liquid to form a suit of armour around this creature. Sharp-eyed PCs might notice the small, bright red flower that the fragment resides in gently insert itself into the centre of the 'body' section. The spirit is almost ready to fight directly. Before the PCs can make a move it reaches back down into the hole and pulls out an oversized scythe, wicked sharp. Some faint vestige of memory has told the fragment that this is an appropriate weapon.

Flowers suddenly and violently bloom in the floating baskets, a mass of petals tumbling over the sides and roots being forced through the base to accompany the profusion of flowers.

The spirit attacks, swinging the scythe with immense power at the nearest PC. The attack can be dodged but not blocked as doing so would break the arms of those that did so. It will repeat this attack every so often; whenever someone is within striking distance of the golem {I'll call it that from now on}. The golem will have the standard attacks you'd expect of a large, scythe armed death dealer along with some special moves it uses every so often:

  • If a PC is running away to get some range a patch of wickerwork will rip off the top of the golem and arrange itself into the individual pieces. This will take about ten seconds and offers a chance to counterattack by setting them ablaze or such. After they are arranged they will fly at an incredible speed at the the PC. Just before they impact they will spread out into a much larger cloud, increasing the chance of a hit. The speed is such that the pieces of wicker could easily penetrate plate armour. After hitting or missing the PC the wicker will pull out of the ground/wall/bloody PC corpse and reform back on the golem.
  • Should a PC be running around the feet of the golem, hacking and slashing the wicker handles of the baskets will join together into a long, wide whip and lash out at the PC. The whip can be jumped over but watch out of sudden flicks and curves. This whip will have no effect on plate armour save for denting it and stunning the person inside.
  • There is around a 15% chance that any weapon stabbed into the golem will jam. If it does so roots will shoot along and around it seeking the hand that wielded it. If they make contact with the wielder they will pierce the skin and begin draining the energy from the PC. Using magic to try and remove the roots simply provides more energy for them to leech. Cutting them off with some of the roots inside the PC leads to a slight advantage, gaining some knowledge of the nature of the fragment and golem as well as an energy boost. If done more than twice however it will lead to infestation and death of the PC.
  • If any part of the golem is damaged beyond repair, i.e., soil and roots are falling out, then one of the ten baskets will ram into place over the wound, sealing it and providing a boost of energy from the sunlight absorbed by the flowers. Destroying the floating baskets first is a good idea as the fragment has a certain confidence in its own abilities and will not defend the levitating baskets unless it has been wounded and needed to use one.
  • As a last ditch resort, either first or either arm of the golem will rip itself off the main body and fly at the PCs, choosing a target at random. If it is a fist it will try to grab the PC, ram them into a wall or the ground and then crush them. If it is an arm it will try to crush, smash or trip up the PC. In both cases, any damage done to the detached section will cause it to explode in demonic fire and deal area damage to all the PCs.

All forms of damage apply equally to this section of the fight and the aim is to deal one and a half times the amount of damage it took to bring down the mayor's daughter to the golem. Commentary on the failing of limbs and leaking of soil will provide some visual display as to how the fight is progressing.

Just before it fails the golem will throw the scythe at a random party member. This throw will miss and instead impacts the ruined temple, bringing down a wall to reveal a number of crates and a few bodies. The uppermost flower basket will rip out from the golem just as it comes to a shuddering halt. The basket will wobble upwards, tip sideways and then drop to the floor at the feet of the party just as the golem bursts apart from demonic energies and soil and wicker fly everywhere, doing no damage this time.

In the single flower basket is the small red flower, from which comes a faint buzzing. If anyone in the party is injured they are suddenly and violently possessed by the fragment. It wants to talk.

Weeding and garden clean up

Using its new mouthpiece the fragment will plead for its life. It acknowledges the party's triumph and will not harm the one it has taken over if it is killed, but still, it wants to live. It has only dark, fuzzy memories of the time before the village and only recently found out it was a demon and the nature of its origin. It will direct the PCs to the guardhouse cells if they were not already told of them, for the treasure and to look at the crates in the ruined temple.

Inside the crates are a number of reference books, alchemical tests, weed killers, magical fertilisers and a diary. The diary details the investigation by a number of mages into the possible existence of possessed objects on the continent. They had heard rumours of a bucket that hungered for flesh but dismissed them as lies and that fragment as lost. The diary indicates the group invented a device for detecting demonic possession in inanimate objects which had led them to this town. Seeing the aggressively private townsfolk as simply backwards religious fanatics and the over-abundance of plants as a simple arboreal experiment gone wrong they snuck into the town using a combination of magic, camouflage, stealth and kites {there will be a scrawled note in dwarfish stating that they will never use kites again} only to find that a fragment was in control of the town. Trying to study it led to their demise and the fragment's plans to escape.

The fragment will reveal how it had the townsfolk read the books to it and discovered why blood magic was so easy for it. Combining this with the latent knowledge of its slaves and their previous superstitions it realised it was descended from a being of immense evil and great power. It sought an escape partially to survive but also to remove itself from anyone it could harm again.

The spirit of demonic power, the shreds of dark energy and the ball of utter malevolence has reformed. It is a pacifist now. It means no-one any harm and reveals that until the books were read to it, it had no idea of right or wrong, of good or evil and so simply went about it's business as practically as possible. It says that whatever the PCs decide to do to it is only fair and asks them to be its judges. It will return the plants under its influence to normal and ceases its control over any animals left. It kills the townsfolk and dog/plant hybrids saying that it was no way to lead a life.

If the PCs search the town they will find the treasure trove at the burnt down guardhouse but little else, all the other material wealth had been used to buy wicker and plant specimens. There is a 75% chance that if they have not already done so they will find the Chum Bucket - 5963.

If the PCs decide to let the fragment survive and keep it for themselves {potentially annoying a lot of the people who sent them on the mission} it can be used in one of three ways:

  • Wearing the flower on a person, attached to clothes provides the PC with a greater ability to shrug off dark magic damage, the flower absorbing 5% of all damage dealt with evil magic {necromatic, decay, entropic, etc}.
  • Planting the flower will cause a grove of trees and plants native to the area to grow around it to their full adult stage within two hours. If any of the plants have healing properties they will be enhanced by the pacifist fragment, any destructive or harmful properties negated or diminished.
  • Planting the flower in a flower basket will result in a small, fast-moving and perceptive scout which is capable of flight. It can be verbally instructed to go and look for certain things, patrol an area of just generally scout and will commandeer a PC's voice to report back.

If they decide to destroy the fragment they must burn it and then dunk it in holy water for the duration of the trip back to the vengeful townsfolk.

Putting the flower in the Chum Bucket 5963 is a bad idea, catastrophic even. I'm sure a GM can devise a nasty interaction between two powerful entities which are now fundamentally opposed.

And then it's done! The PCs go wherever the PCs go. They are hopefully still alive and hopefully had fun, feel free to make changes to this side-quest; it's only a framework of course and I'm new here.

If they keep the fragment they may want to prepare for their encounter with the final piece of demon soul, the most powerful and dangerous one of them all. And it has the support of the demon from which all three originated.

 

 



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Comments ( 6 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
December 29, 2009, 15:50
0xp
A very good floral adventure.
Voted Redgre
December 29, 2009, 17:15
0xp
Good submission. I think any PC would thoroughly enjoy the final battle where you have no idea what this plant-demon thing is going to do next. It is clear that you put a lot of thought into this creation. I cannot deny having several questions though:

1) When you say 'spores' do you really mean 'pollen'? Pollen makes more sense to me than spores.
2) At the end of the background section you tell us that SOUF has been copying itself but never make reference to those copies again. Are those copies the symbiotic plants that form part of the golem and then are destroyed? It does not appear like those plants are true copies of SOUF, merely extensions.
3) I'm confused at what point in time did SOUF became a pacifist. Was it at the moment of defeat or earlier?
4) You describe SOUF as being an instinctive being, following an urge for self preservation, however, weapon manufacture (the strange hot bark/bone spear held by the mayor's daughter and the oversized, I'm guessing 20' scythe) shows that it was premeditated at least in some form. Could you explain?
5) Finally, it seems like SOUF has more tricks than Houdini (i.e. possession/mind control, telekinesis, area effect plant control, animal control, golem creation, making super humans through plant umbelical, etc.) yet once it goes passive, it only acts as a charm that provides a little spell protection, a plant fertilizer, and a very strange looking scout. Now I'm all for limiting PCs in getting their hot hands on uber items, but we are still missing the why. Why is it weaker after the final battle? Does it retain those powers but just refuse to use them?

I think this is a great side-quest and plan on using it. I look forward to you completing your demon essence series. I hope my questions in no way deter you from writing. Keep up the good work.
Voted Scrasamax
January 1, 2010, 16:39
1xp
Well done, having recently watched the Happening by M. Night Shamalamadingdong, I felt this was superior in quality. Good work Mr. Wiggle
Voted Fallen Angel
January 11, 2010, 4:13
0xp
Wow
PoisonAlchemist
July 16, 2011, 13:19
1xp

This is quite the submission. I am not sure it needs all the text you have given it, some simple ideas as far as invading the town and the final battle might have gone farther for a DM than fully detailing it all yourself. The base concept is great, but I think the name is a bit misleading given that it is a fragment of deamon and not actually a spirit of flora. Overall thumbs up.

Voted valadaar
March 28, 2014, 11:36
0xp
This is quite original and detailed. Lots of good stuff here.

Putting the flower in the Chum Bucket is quite an interesting idea :)


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