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Illustration of a wide, round mushroom with a sparkly, red, flat cap. Its gills and stem are dark.

 

Safety Rating: Physically harmless, but can be socially dangerous.

Environment: Grasslands.

Fairy Circles: Each fairy circle fungus produces a ring of mushrooms that has a magical effect on anyone who enters it. They are called fairy circles because a number of fairy communities are heavily involved in cultivating and breeding them. As a result, there are many different varieties of fairy circle fungus, each of which produces a mushroom with a distinctive appearance.

Details: The large mushrooms of the Sparkling Red Fairy Circle Fungus have dramatic red and black coloring. The top of their perfectly round, flat caps are bright red and they sparkle as if they are encrusted with sequins. The underside of the cap has gills that form swirling black ruffles. These dramatic caps sit proudly on long, thin, black stems.

The ring formed by the Sparkling Red Fairy Circle is thirty feet wide. Anyone who enters it has the overwhelming urge to burst into song, expressing their deepest feelings through music and dance.

The fairies that bred the Sparkling Red Fairy Circle made it purely for their own amusement. As a joke, it is regularly grown on narrow grassland pathways where the fairies can hide the mushrooms in the tall plants on either side of the path. This means that unsuspecting travelers regularly enter these fairy circles without realizing what has happened. The resulting musical confusion is considered hilarious. Continue Reading »

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Illustration of a small green mushroom with a pointed cap on top of a small moss-covered mound.

 

Safety Rating: Potentially harmless, beneficial, and dangerous.

Environment: Temperate forests.

Fairy Circles: Each fairy circle fungus produces a ring of mushrooms that has a magical effect on anyone who enters it. They are called fairy circles because a number of fairy communities are heavily involved in cultivating and breeding them. As a result, there are many different varieties of fairy circle fungus, each of which produces a mushroom with a distinctive appearance.

The Dark Green Fairy Circle is a type of fairy circle with magic that can only be fully accessed by those who have formed a magical bond to the forest. Only characters that have lived in the forest for at least one year are able to form this type of bond.

Details: This type of fairy circle is much harder to spot than most. The mushrooms are small with deep green pointed caps that blend in with the small plants of the forest floor. They make rings that are three feet wide.

This fungus is connected to the root network of their entire forest. Anyone who is inside the ring can attempt to connect to the forest and perceive all of the living things within it. This is Sensing Magic and it can be used to observe a particular location or to locate a specific plant, animal, or person within the forest. Those who have a bond to the forest gain the full benefit of this magic, while those who don’t can only gain a limited, unstable access that easily becomes overwhelming.

Lore: Many druids use Dark Green Fairy Circles to monitor their forest homes. In temperate forests, Dark Green Fairy Circles have been an especially helpful tool in the struggle to stop poachers. Efforts are currently underway to create a type of Dark Green Fairy Circle that will grow in tropical forests. Continue Reading »

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Illustration of a lush swamp lit dramatically by the afternoon sun shining through the leaves of the trees. Arching out from behind a patch of trees is a huge scorpion tail that is the same dappled brown as the tree trunk it is hiding behind.

 

Safety Rating: Extremely dangerous.

Environment: Wetlands where there is plenty of cover, especially swamps.

Details: The fruiting bodies of this predatory fungus grow into enormous green and brown scorpion tails on top of many-legged, crawling bodies the size of large dogs. Called Scorpion Tails, these fruiting bodies are usually eight feet tall, but tails up to twelve feet tall have been documented. They stalk animals, ducking agilely behind trees until they get close enough to strike with their stingers, which are sharp enough to pierce metal and stone. They use these stingers to stabs deep into their victims, injecting spores.

Scorpion Tails attack repeatedly until their target is dead. Then they stand guard over the carcass, protecting it from scavengers so that the spores have had time to grow and produce new Scorpion Tails. Scorpion Tails that are guarding carcasses are relatively docile and only attack things that get close to them. However the presence of a Scorpion Tail guarding a carcass is a clear sign of danger, because there will be other Scorpion Tails in the area.

When hunting for prey, Scorpion Tails are attracted to movement, especially fast movement. They prefer larger prey and, when possible, they go after isolated prey, rather than groups. This means that stealth can be a useful protection against Scorpion Tails. Being small and staying in groups also helps. In addition, because the Scorpion Tails are so tall and top-heavy, once they have been knocked over, it takes them a few minutes to get back up. However knocked over Scorpion Tails are still dangerous, as they can strike with their stingers while on their sides.

Lore: One popular story describes Oriel (or-ee-EL) Dancer, an orcish folk hero and rogue, who defended themself from a Scorpion Tail by getting it to attack an inanimate object and then trapping its stinger inside that object. It is unclear how effective this technique would be outside of a story. Continue Reading »

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Illustration of a cluster of small, green, pebble-like succulents with white, daisy-like flowers that are nestled among tan rocks.

 

Safety Rating: Mildly dangerous.

Environment: Deserts.

Details: These tiny cacti look like little clusters of pebbles. They are colored to blend in with local rock. Most often they are tan and brown, but sometimes they are green or more dramatic colors, like red or purple. Their surface is mottled and speckled to help them camouflage with the nearby stone.

As an additional defense, when touched these cacti produce a bright flash of light that causes a temporary magical blindness. This flash of light is triggered by touches to its thin, flexible spines. The light flash is also bright enough to attract desert predators, which know that these flashes are often a sign of the presence of prey.

In autumn the Flashing Stone Cacti produce small, white, daisy-like flowers that emerge from the gaps between the cacti stems. These flowers are an important source of nectar for pollinators, especially migratory pollinators like humming birds, bats, and butterflies.

Lore: Fifty years ago, Juniper Huckleberry led a team that found a way to combine some of the properties of Flashing Stone Cactus with that of the Tree of Eternal Sleep to create Glowing Stone Cactus, which is the primary ingredient used in lampstones. The “Into the Research Garden adventure has more details about this aspect of the cactus’ history. Continue Reading »

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Illustration of a terra cotta pot with a glowing, green, spineless cactus in it. The cactus has two equally-sized leaf-like lobes and it is covered in little green dots.

 

Safety Rating: Beneficial.

Environment: Cultivated parts of arid regions.

Details: Glowing Stone Cactus is a small, oval, pebble-like cactus that doesn’t have any spines. Once mature, it glows brightly day and night. While the light that it produces is white, its thick green skin tints the light green. Because the bright light that it produces uses energy, Glowing Stone Cactus can only live in ground that is infused with magic.

Lore: Glowing Stone Cactus is the primary ingredient used to create lampstones. Fifty years ago, Juniper Huckleberry led a team that found a way to combine some of the properties of the Tree of Eternal Sleep with that of Flashing Stone Cactus to create Glowing Stone Cactus for lampstone productions. The “Into the Research Garden” adventure has more details about this aspect of the cactus’ history.

Inspiration: The Glowing Stone Cactus is inspired by lithops, which is a genus of succulents often known as pebble plants or living stones that protect themselves by blending in with the surrounding rocks.

 

Glowing Stone Cactus is part of the Crossroads Setting for the tabletop role-playing game, Magic Goes Awry. Click here to go to the list of wild and whimsical magical plants from the Land of Crossroads.

 

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Illustration of thick, twisting, looping, green vines on the floor of a tropical forest.

 

Safety Rating: Extremely dangerous.

Environment: Druid cultivated regions of tropical forest.

Details: Bred from a carnivorous plant, many druids living in tropical forests use Spiral Snare Vine for defense. This tough, ropey vine drapes itself over and around paths in loops big enough to catch large people and animals. While Spiral Snare Vine is easy to spot, patches of it aren’t as easy to get around. This is because, when triggered, Spiral Snare Vine closes like an iris, creating a wall that blocks the area that it is in. This means that people can’t just trigger it to get around it.

Spiral Snare Vine is covered in thin hairs that can detect even the slightest touch. In order to avoid being triggered by normal occurrences, like falling leaves, the first touch activates the vine, and a second touch within the next minute triggers it. When triggered, Spiral Snare Vine suddenly twists closed, sinking poisonous thorns into the flesh of anything it catches. Though this poison is designed to incapacitate, rather than kill, being rendered unconscious by this vine can be extremely dangerous, especially if there are predators nearby.

Any time that a Spiral Snare Vine is triggered, but fails to catch something, it starts opening back up right away. However, if a Spiral Snare Vine catches something, even an inanimate object, it holds on tenaciously, waiting for one of its druid caretakers to come collect its catch.

Lore: Druids have been working with snare vines for as long as anyone can remember. They are the oldest family of domesticated carnivorous plant. As a result, many different varieties have been bred for hunting and defense. In addition, snare vines are believed to be the ancestors of the touch sculpted plants that are currently used to make furniture that adjusts its height and shape in response to the touch of its user.

Because of the long history of cultivation, many kinds of snare vine are a capable of developing strong relationships with the druids that care for them. This is true of Spiral Snare Vine. As a magical plant, Spiral Snare Vine is more aware of its surroundings, which means that Spiral Snare Vines can recognize their caretakers and let them pass through without going off. In addition, as guard plants, Spiral Snare Vines are suspicious of strangers, even if those strangers can talk to plants. Continue Reading »

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Illustration of thick, long, twisting, brown roots lying on dark, wet mud.

 

Safety Rating: Beneficial.

Environment: Wetlands.

Details: This prized wetland vegetable is eaten by both people and animals. Octopus Root is a highly edible plant, but it protects itself by camouflaging its grass-like leaves to look like nearby inedible plants.

Octopus Root has another defense as well. If there is too much disturbance in its area, at night it can pull its tentacle-like roots out of the ground and crawl around until it finds a better location. Then it wiggles its roots back into the ground.

Lore: Almost every part of this plant is edible. Their shoots, flowers, and seeds are edible, as are their roots, which are crisp, with a mild nutty flavor. In addition, eating their roots confers a temporary camouflaging ability.

Inspiration: Octopuses and water chestnut.

 

Octopus Root is part of the Crossroads Setting for the tabletop role-playing game, Magic Goes Awry. Click here to go to the list of wild and whimsical magical plants from the Land of Crossroads.

 

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Illustration of a maroon orchid flower with petals that have long curly appendages on them and a center that looks like a pink monkey face. This flower belongs to the dracula orchid genus that inspired the Jumping Monkey Orchid. Original photo by Orchi – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

Safety Rating: Dangerous.

Environment: Tropical forests.

Details: This magical orchid has dispensed with pollinators and instead pollinates itself. Half of its bright pink, monkey-shaped flowers leap off the plant and jump and climb their way to other Jumping Monkey Orchids in order to pollinate them. How these flowers locate other Jumping Monkey Orchids isn’t currently known.

While these miniature pink monkeys are adorable at a distance, they have sharp, poisonous thorns on their hands and feet which they use for climbing. Their poison is designed to protect them from harm and it quickly immobilizes the joints of anything they come into contact with. Continue Reading »

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Illustration of a large, fleshy, red flower with pink spots. It has five petals around a cavity that contains a dark red liquid. Original photos by Steve Cornish, CC BY 2.0, and Bernypisa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

Safety Rating: Harmless.

Environment: Tropical forests.

Details: This parasitic plant produces a large flower with thick fleshy petals that are mottled red and pink. The center of the Weeping Corpse Flower slowly oozes droplets of a dark red liquid. The flower looks and smells like rotting flesh. In this red liquid is a powerful insect attractant which draws a swarm of flies and other insects to serve as its pollinators. These insects get covered in pollen as they feed on the red liquid. When the red liquid runs out, the swarm moves on to the next Weeping Corpse Flower, bringing the pollen with them.

Lore: This insect attractant can be harvested and used in pest control magic to draw insect pests to specific locations.

Inspiration: Both rafflesia and bleeding tooth fungus.

 

Weeping Corpse Flower is part of the Crossroads Setting for the tabletop role-playing game, Magic Goes Awry. Click here to go to the list of wild and whimsical magical plants from the Land of Crossroads.

 

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Illustration of a round cactus surrounded by many smaller round cacti. All of them have a glittering, rainbow, crystalline shimmer that is especially noticeable on their many sharp needles.

 

Safety Rating: Situationally dangerous and beneficial.

Environment: Deserts.

Details: Sometimes called the Desert Coral or Glittering Palace, this cactus community grows in hot, rocky deserts. Above ground, each plant encases itself in a shell of razor-sharp, glittering crystal. Much like coral, each new plant builds on top of the previous one. Over time this creates elaborate, glittering towers that look much like the towers of an elaborate palace.

Below ground, the roots of this plant community bore deep into the rock, eating away at it to create an enormous network of tunnels and chambers. Their roots seal up the cracks in the rock so that the whole network is water tight and can function as an underground reservoir for collecting and storing rainwater.

A few specialized plants and animals can tap into the reservoirs of a young Oasis Palace Cactus community. However as the Oasis Palace grows in size, things become easier. Eventually the walls between different sections of tunnel thin, causing collapses. These collapses open up the reservoir to a wide array of plants and animals, forming important watering holes. In the right locations, mature Oasis Palace Cactus communities can become the centers of large oases.

Lore: Above ground the most obvious hazard is the razor-sharp crystal that protects each cactus. In older cactus communities shards of crystal collect on the ground around the cactus “palace.” There are also a number of dangerous animals that live in these oases. A less frequent, but serious hazard is the sudden tunnel collapses which create sinkholes. In addition, even a brief rain can cause flash floods in the underground tunnel network.

 

The Oasis Palace Cactus is part of the Crossroads Setting for the tabletop role-playing game, Magic Goes Awry. Click here to go to the list of wild and whimsical magical plants from the Land of Crossroads.

 

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