Plants that control emotions are pretty standard fare in spooky media. I’m sure that one of the many sharp-eyed horror fans who read this blog will be able to suggest a number of TV shows or books that the griefgall shares traits with. (For my part, I have a feeling Poison Ivy has used a few griefgall-like plants in her schemes.)
Beyond parasitization (which is nothing to sneeze at), the griefgalls main party trick is casting psychic spells that make those around it feel so terrible or remorseful that they are paralyzed with pity…or even go so far as to hurt themselves. All in all, not a bad suite of spells, especially for a plant that feeds on emotions.
Two other interesting things about griefgalls: 1) They prosper in urban decay; 2) they speak Aklo. The former makes them a marker for good-hearted PCs who want to enact social change—if they can prove conditions are so bad for the poor that griefgalls are growing, they have leverage to get the local lord to do more for the least fortunate. The latter is more disturbing—plants that speak are plants that have intellects, or perhaps even agendas. Do griefgalls spread merely to propagate the species or do they have other motives in mined?
The princess and her whipping girl look so alike they trade places to prank their governess. With the princess about to go through her menarche rituals, the whipping girl was to be placed into fosterage…only the night before the rite, the palace steward packed off the sleeping princess instead. By the time the mix-up is discovered, the princess has been deposited in a dismal foster home...the same night a griefgall takes over the home’s cook. Adventurers sent to discreetly retrieve the girl will have to fight off the plant creatures before it’s too late.
Rebellion is playing out in the lower wards of the Thanehold of Argus. Young and impoverished dwarves gather in angry mobs, demanding opportunities and justice. A particularly canny griefgall matriarch has had her children parasitize flower sellers and hand out lilies and carnations to the crowds for free. Every dwarven tough who sports a flower as a symbol of his cause is a dwarf helping the griefgalls pass unnoticed.
Servants of the Great Old Ones are often insidious and disturbing. But perhaps no cult or sleeper agent is as terrifying as the griefgall, for they make their puppets speak tortured fragments of Aklo over and over. Some scholars have even proposed that the fragments are part of a single monologue or a diatribe. But if that’s the case, it suggests that the sum of all griefgalls is really one giant colony creature—a creature that may be just as powerful as the other Great Old Ones.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 133
Huh. A plant that feeds on strong emotions. A bit on the nose after the last week, dontcha think?
If you’re looking for the great assassin bug, we covered that what should have been a week ago, but sadly has been more like a month and a half. Oy.
I don't want to talk about last Tuesday, and you don't want to talk about last Tuesday. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can get the link to my Election Night radio show here for the next hour and a half.