Monday, March 7, 2016

Corpse Lotus

The corpse flower is a real thing, as many of you know (because you are on the Internet and the Internet thinks science is neat).  So if you’re a game designer, you don’t leave a name like that just lying around.  You turn it into a plant monster—the corpse lotus—and set it loose on the battlefields of countless worlds.

The first trick in fighting a corpse lotus is spotting it in advance—it tends to resemble the local greenery and has the Camouflage (Ex) ability besides.  Then you have to watch out for its vines, which pack all the punch of a full-grown Audrey II.  And you have to watch out it doesn’t swallow any corpses—or your friends—because it can gulp down and digest them as fast as a carnivorous plant in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon for a fast healing boon.  (And since these things tend to crop up amid battlefields and are pretty good at hunting prey on their own, chances are they’ve got a corpse handy even if none of your PCs volunteer.)

Unless your PCs are specifically hunting for alchemical components (corpse lotuses produce a mist that mimics the gentle repose spell, making them a good choice for various oils and tinctures), a corpse lotus is always going to be a side encounter, never the Big Bad.  But they might move the plot forward in some interesting ways.  Bodies preserved by a corpse lotus’s mists last indefinitely, which can allow PCs more time to raise an important NPC, speak with dead, or otherwise find evidence or personal keepsakes that would otherwise be lost to decay.

Adventurers want to travel to the lower reaches of the Delve.  But there’s an obstacle: the winter grounds of an orc horde.  Rather than engage in conflict and rouse the ire of the horde, the adventurers plan to sneak through the settlement disguised as corpse collectors (or as the corpses riding the wagons).  After snaking through the horde, the adventurers then discover why these otherwise filthy orcs are so meticulous about gathering up their dead.  The corpses are dumped into a shallow ravine filled with corpse flowers, protecting the horde’s rear flank from monstrous threats below.

Unable to defeat a red dragon in combat, a smaller blue dragon sows corpse lotus seeds throughout his territory.  She hopes that when he wakes from his long hibernation, the plants will have taken root and driven off much of his game, forcing him into territories guarded by other dragons or obstreperous humans.  Adventurers may become involved when the corpse lotuses spread into their holdings, or because rare attacks by the ferocious red, though horrific, are to be preferred over the systematic dominance of a blue dragon suzerain and her minions.

At a peace treaty, the losing general promises to cover the graves of the fallen in crimson flowers as a monument to the spilt blood on both sides.  True to his word, he plants the flowers…but they are corpse lotuses.  The plant monsters quickly grow fat on the still-to-be-interred dead, just as the bitter general intended.

Pathfinder Adventure Path #78 84–85 & Pathfinder Bestiary 5 60

It’s the Tumblr version of this blog’s 4th birthday today.  Woo!  (The real birthday is of course in June.)

You know I’m old school because my blue dragons are always suzerains.

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