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ID: 6961


September 16, 2012, 7:46 am

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Tracker Bush


Those attuned with magic and nature can use this plant to quickly identify what might be traveling or living in its area by their footfalls.

Scattered throughout most lands, like a weed, are short stubby bushes that blend into any flora that is normally in the area. To call them chameleon plants may go too far but if it is in the plains, they don’t grow larger than the biggest shrub and in the deep woods the can grow large and healthy. They also, more often than not, adapt to the colored surroundings as well to blend in.

Their distinctive leaves in the size and shape of a babies hand are the main way to identify them. They carry no berries, fruits or seeds. It is said that they evolved from a single plant that was somehow created and all the bushes branched off from there. In the time since then they have spread and died leaving some in isolated and others covering a huge area.

They live in harmony with their surroundings and don’t kill off other plants. They are very subtle and difficult to notice for a layman. Their root system is what separates them from most normal plants. It is a set of tiny tendrils, almost like veins, that rarely delve deeper than a couple inches under the dirt. The snake and turn and spread at an incredible rate and distance. If you were to try and pull one up and maintain the roots you would be forced to destroy a very large area up to hundreds of meters in every direction. They would be so intertwined in the surrounding area it is impossible to just pull them up.  

However, if you did actually try to pull one of the bushes up, you would simply rip the bush part and leave the extravagant, yet fragile,  root system behind. Once you destroyed this single bush another one would simply regrow somewhere else along the system.

For those attuned with nature and who have an affinity for magic, the Tracker Bush is an incredible tool. Druids and Rangers with some magical ability find them to be of the greatest advantage for when the bush is touched and a magic is coursed through the plant the root system turns into a large pressure plate of sensory information. The roots are so fragile and so close to the surface that any pressure on the dirt above it is felt by the roots and transferred to the main bush. 

The system is so intricate and spread so well that these sensory inputs can be interpreted by a trained Tracker. 

Initially, the Tracker would be so inundated with sensory information that it may overwhelm him. Through time and practice the Tracker can learn how to isolate the input and direct his attention and, very slowly, learn how to interpret the information and relate it to the surrounding area. Once fully mastered, a Tracker may be able to magically “see” the footprints of any being in that root’s system scope. They will be able to interpret the steps of humans, deer, rabbits, etc., by their pressure on the root and pattern of their footfalls. One could quickly see the power of this information.

The bush is a fragile thing so overuse can damage the plants and roots. They are not made for the power of the magic flowing through their roots so they cannot be overused. After each 20 minutes of use it should usually be allowed to rest a day or two in order to ensure its safety. Once the roots are destroyed they won’t grow back. The bushes don’t overlap. As soon as the plant senses another it maintains a buffer zone between each other. Another plant can grow into a dead plant’s zone.

Roots that are delicately extracted and that have been used as a Tracker will retain some of the magic pushed through them. These roots, if prepared correctly, could imbue some temporary, random sensory affects. They could give increased eyesight, hearing, taste etc. Leaves from the bush are a minor poison that will cause random, impaired sensory affects.

Notes and Game Usages

- Generally, the main use is for Druids and Rangers to be able to track those who go through their domain. By knowing where and how to use the Tracker bush they can review a great swatch of land in as few as five minutes. By a couple, quick checks the Tracker could find people and determine their direction of travel.

- It is said that there are some powerful mages that are so attuned with nature that they can go one step further and use the roots as an extension as themselves. By intricate and complex magical forms it is said that some could actually grow the roots and use them to ensnare people and animals. Some could cast spells through the roots as if they were there. These actions would kill the root system so there are few that would do it except in the most extreme circumstances.

- So far none have been able to come up with a way to create where a new bush will grow. It would be very valuable if a Tracker could develop a way to have all the bushes, of separate plants, all grow very close to each other. Then they would have a central area where, very quickly, they could scout an immense area vs. having to travel from bush to bush.

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Comments ( 8 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted axlerowes
September 18, 2012, 8:52
A nice enough treatment of magical flora, and I am fan of anything that adds dimension and player interaction to walking through the woods. I get the feeling you were on the fence about how much detail you wanted to add to this one. But the basic idea is sound and useful.
September 18, 2012, 13:46
This was one of those ideas I wanted to write to get it out of my head but wasn't enthralled enough with it to give it the full treatment. I made a conscience decision to stop worrying about things and just do it! I will start posting more and not worry about being Scras. ;)
Voted valadaar
September 18, 2012, 13:08
I have a thing for magical plants, so this is cool. I could easily see these fitting in the myriad defences of the Unseen Fortress, and with your permission, would like to add it into that submission.

September 18, 2012, 13:45
Four shure!
September 18, 2012, 13:58
Update: Forgot to add Strolenati Guild to my freetext. It is NOT cheating damnit!
Voted Dossta
September 21, 2012, 14:41
I rather like this one -- it's a simple idea, with potentially profound consequences for a game world. A few points that could use clarification:

1. Is the Tracker bush inherently magical, or does it only retain magic energies once it has been used by a spellcaster? If so, how long does it take for those magics to fade entirely?
2. What are the mechanics for using the bush? I understand that you have to touch the bush to set the spell up, but after that how close do you have to be to gain information from it? Does the spellcaster have to touch the bush again, or can he just be standing on top of the root system? Can this be done at an even greater distance?
3. If the bushes spread via root systems, and it is possible to extract part of the living root, I don't understand why it would be so hard to cultivate these things. Even more puzzling -- if the plant spreads via its roots, how can it possibly maintain a distance from others of its kind? Seems to me they'd have to overlap at least some.

Let me say again, I really like this idea and I would love to see it expanded on a little more. A natural pressure plate is just a really cool image!
September 21, 2012, 14:57
Those are outstanding questions that I have no intention of answering. ;)

1) No magic inherent in the bush. Given to it by those that use it.

2) You have to touch the bush and only the bush. Roots are useless as they are only small branches whereas the bush is the central nervous system so to speak.

3) There are empty spots between the bushes. (good plot point I didn't think of earlier) Those that understand the bushes and know the pattern of the roots in that area can use the dead zone between the bush's roots to move unnoticed. Not sure that you couldn't replant. Didn't think of that part, interesting.

It maintains a distance just cause. I was of the thinking that the roots are so invasive that there wouldn't be room for another to overlap so they avoid each other after a root probe identifies another plant. They would react somehow with each other and just naturally not grow any more in that direction.
Voted Chaosmark
September 21, 2012, 14:48
Only voted

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Raptyr

Nine times out of ten, it’s the undead that do the running.

Not strictly animal or vegetable, the Corpse bud is a peculiar individual that shares characteristics from multiple kingdoms and species. In appearance, all corpse buds bear a shape of a large rounded top bud divided into four lateral segments, and a much longer, narrower bottom bud, also divided into four segments. Between the two halves are a set of four radial limbs, rounded on top and flat on the bottom, covered with tiny serrated hooks facing towards the body. In overall size, it’s limbs reach as wide as a spread hand, with the body being as thick as a fist. It is as long as a human hand from top to bottom.

Internally, the top bud of the corpse bud contains a bacteria filled membrane that produces the hydrogen that the corpse bud uses to stay aloft, and a series of fungal gills for the dispersal of spores for reproduction. The lower half of the bud contains a number of fine filaments, as well as a sharp barbed stinger containing a powerful local anaesthesia.

The Corpse Bud mobilizes by inflating its top bud, and steers by rotating its arms rapidly about its body. The corpse bud ordinarily drifts with the wind, orienting towards the scent of recent decay and death. It preys on the recently dead, burrowing the lower bud into the victim, using the anaesthesia in case the victim is dying, and not truly deceased. Once embedded, it releases its filaments into the body, replacing the current nervous system. This gives it full animation of the body, and allows the corpse bud to direct it.

Corpse buds are not a malevolent species, being primarily concerned with breaking down the host body for food, and infecting the reproductive cycle with spores in order to mate with other corpse-bud bodies. To preserve the corpse for this purpose, Corpse buds will seek out dry locations to prevent bacteria from destroying the corpses. This often causes a large number of corpse buds to gather in a single location.

In culture, Corpse buds are used to repair broken spines or degenerative diseases, as the sentient mind will easily overcome the mind of the non-sentient corpse bud. Once infected by a corpse bud, however, removal is usually fatal, and the infected individual cannot reproduce, or risk infecting another. Thus, it is a technique often reserved for the elderly, or a last resort.

Necromancers and other dark sorcerers will often preserve the corpses of their victims magically, and infect them with corpse buds, creating traditional undead as well, so as to seed their lairs with undead both offensive and non, in order to throw their enemies off balance. They will also enslave the rudimentary minds of the corpse buds, and transform the docile things into a plague. There have also been accounts of magically transformed corpse buds with stronger minds and a taste for living flesh, but thus far all accounts are unproven rumors.

Ideas  ( Lifeforms ) | October 12, 2011 | View | UpVote 3xp

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