Gather round the fire, you children of the jungle. Let it be known by you that the wilds of our homeland can be harsh indeed. Even our mighty heroes and wise elders are, at times, at the mercy of the land. You must learn that, in times of need, the jungle itself can provide for its people. Beware, however, for just as an incautious man may find himself in the belly of the tiger, so too can malady befall one who is careless with the bounty of the wilds.
-Bhagiro Hatti, Gowandian Scholar
I mentioned in a previous post that one of my groups will be revisiting The Isle of Dread. I spent some time over the holidays prepping for our January sessions and stumbled across some old articles that I had written for the Polyhedron Newsine. I wrote Weeds of Wonder for issue #108 in 1995, as part of the RPGA’s Living Jungle campaign. Since I am going to be dealing with a jungle setting, I decided to reprint it here.
Weeds of Wonder
Below is a partial list of some of the more useful plants to be found within the jungles of Malatra. There are, of course, many others awaiting discovery; some of these will have benign properties, while others will be harmful or even toxic.
Most intelligent inhabitants of Malatra should be aware that plants like these exist. Heroes with herbalism, survival, or other appropriate skills should be allowed a proficiency check to identify or locate these plants.
Part used: Whole Bush
Description: Found only in dry areas of the Rayanna Savannah, this gnarled, woody Bush appears dead even when flourishing. Actually, it is nothing more than a tangled ball of razor-sharp thorns. The Bush seems to serve no other purpose than to shelter small animals which often seek its cover on the otherwise open savannah.
Uses: After carefully harvesting the Bush and allowing it to dry in the sun (this normally takes two to five days, assuming that it is not the rainy season), the bush may be broken into many pieces. These pieces may then be efficiently used as caltrops. Any person with bare feet moving through an area containing stikricki bushes suffers one hit point of damage. In addition, he will have to make a successful save against paralyzation in order to keep moving through the caltrops. Two mature stikricki bushes will bear enough thorns to cover effectively a 10-foot square area.
Part Used: Root
Description: This distinctive plant has stems that vary in length from two to four feet. Broad leaves surround the plant, and its flowers are large and white with Violet centers. The root is sandy brown and very bitter to the taste. The tiki is found only in humid regions which receive a fair amount of sunlight.
Uses: For as far back as they can remember, the inhabitants of Malatra have been using the root of the tiki plant. Anyone versed in the knowledge of this plant can boil the roots in water to create a thick, pungent brew which will slow poison as does the second level priest spell slow poison. These benefits, however, are granted only if the person drinking the brew also gets complete bed rest.
Part Used: Juice from stem
Description: This is a fairly large plant, growing to nearly six feet in height. The leaves range in color from light green to yellow and are long and thin. The flowers are delicate and yellow, and the gualla produces clusters of golden berries. There is a common legend among various tribes that the Ancients brought gualla with them when they came to Malatra.
Uses: Within the stem of the gualla is a thick chartreuse liquid, the juice has a luminescent property which causes it to glow in the dark period objects or persons covered in gualla juice will glow with a faint green light which will be visible from up to 60 yards away in the dark period the juice will lose its luminescence approximately 12 hours after being exposed to the air, although it can be stored in an airtight container for months.
Part Used: Crushed leaves
Description: Magasorium is a short, stocky plant with thick, flat leaves. It is entirely green, except for black ribbing along its leaves. Magasorium grows abundantly throughout the Malatran jungle. However, since it grows close to the ground, often it can be hard to find.
Uses: Magasorium is an excellent repellent against the many insects of the jungle. For personal use, the leaves are crushed, and the juice is rubbed on the skin. This application will remain effective for approximately 4 hours (less if the recipient is engaged in strenuous activity). Some tribes also burn the plants in order to keep insects away from their villages.
Part Used: Crushed leaves
Description: Billitri is a fragrant, delicate looking plant with numerous slender leaves. It is commonly found on hills and on the sides of mountains. The stem is about 6 inches long and usually produces 3 flowers, which are lavender with golden centers in color.
Uses: The juice from the leaves of the billitri is so fragrant that its scent will remain for days with a person who has applied it to his skin. Many hunters of Malatra use crushed billitri leaves to mask their scent while stalking their prey. The fragrance is strong enough to mask their natural scent, rendering them difficult to detect by creatures that rely on their senses of smell. Some crafty heroes, when being chased by keen nosed predators have been known to lead the creatures through a patch of billitri. Even in its natural state, billitri’s fragrance is strong enough to deaden temporarily the sense of smell of a creature that gets too close to the plants. Although this is not a guaranteed method of throwing off prey, it has worked often enough to make it worth an attempt.
Part Used: Berries
Description: This is a short Bush with slender branches. It grows in dry soil, near the edges of the Rayanna Savannah. Its stems are covered with tiny, cactus-like thorns. The flowers are delicate and white with four petals. Those harvesting the berries of the biseechee bush must do so cautiously, for cobras often make their homes in the areas where these bushes are found.
Uses: The berries of the biseechee bush have incredible healing properties. Many of the Nubari believe these bushes to be gifts from the Ancients. Eating the berries will heal 1hp per berry, to a maximum of four hp over a 24-hour period. Unfortunately, these berries lose their special healing properties within a day, so heroes must seek them out whenever they need them.
Part Used: Berries
Description: This short bush looks very similar to the biseechee bush and the one is often mistaken for the other. A close inspection will show that manriki berries are a deeper shade of red and its flowers have only three petals. As with the biseechee, the manriki can be found on the outskirts of the savannah.
Uses: The berries of the manriki bush are extremely toxic to most humanoids. Though they taste sweet and pleasant at first, they quickly cause intense headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Anyone eating them will need to save against poison at +2. If the save fails, the victim will start to see spots shortly after ingestion. Within an hour, the victim will become blind. Any method of slowing or neutralizing poison will affect the onset of this blindness. The blindness will wear off on its own in 3-10 rounds. Blinded characters suffer a – 4 penalty to their attack rolls, and their opponents gain a + 4 to their attack rolls against them, for the duration of the blindness.
Part Used: Vines
Description: The manshooki is a towering tree found in the deepest recesses of the jungle. It closely resembles a massive willow tree, with hundreds of vines dangling down to the jungle floor. The limbs of the manshooki tree are more than strong enough to support humans. Many of the Malatran tribes build storage platforms on these trees high enough off the jungle floor to protect their provisions from prowling jungle animals.
Uses: The vines of full grown manshooki trees are extremely strong and vary in length from 20 to 130 feet. As they are even stronger than hemp, more limber, and narrower in diameter, many inhabitants of Malatra prefer them to ropes woven from hemp. Ultimately, the vines are not as durable, becoming dried out within 3-4 days after being removed from the tree, after which time they could break at any time.
The RPGA’s Living Jungle campaign was written for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition and was located within the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Because of this, some of the proper names are specific to Toril. If you are using another campaign setting, such as Mystara or a homebrew, it should be easy enough to make the necessary changes.
While these were originally written for AD&D 2e, I think everything is tame enough that it should work with pretty much any old school or current system with minor tweaks. For instance, I do not believe slow poison existed in B/X or BECMI but I that would be easy to work around.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!
Weeds of Wonder is owned by Wizards of the Coast. I am reprinting this post in a strictly non-commercial, voluntary basis as unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.