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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.

Little Pebbles: Because the Flashing Stone Cactus is camouflaged to blend in with local rock, spotting it requires a roll of the Perception skill.

  • 0 Successes: A failure means that the character failed to see the Flashing Stone Cactus and touched it. Everyone that is looking in their general direction must defend against the resulting bright flash of light.
  • 1 Success: A partial success means that the character spotted the cactus just in time to avoid it. The character does this at a minor cost. For example, they could stumble or drop something.
  • 2 Successes: A full success means that the character spotted the cactus in time to completely avoid it.
  • 3 Successes: An outstanding success means that the character spotted the cactus in time to avoid touching it and also spotted something else useful. For example, they could spot an animal track that alerts them to a dangerous animal that lives in this area. Alternatively, the character could spot the Flashing Stone Cactus in time to prevent one of their companions from touching it.

Bright Flash: When someone touches a Flashing Stone Cactus, it produces a bright flash of light. This is more than ordinary light, it is also a magical effect. Anyone that is looking in the general direction of the cactus must roll their mental defense to find out how well they protect themselves.

  • 0 Successes: A failure means that the character is temporarily blinded for the rest of the scene. This means that they cannot do visual tasks and the character takes a one die penalty to any action that is significantly harder for them to do without being able to see.
  • 1 Success: A partial success means that the character is partially blinded for the rest of the scene. This means that the character takes a one die penalty to visual tasks and to any tasks that are significantly harder for them to do without being able to see.
  • 2 Successes: A full success means that the character is able to protect themselves and suffers no ill effects.
  • 3 Successes: An outstanding success means that the character has protected themselves from the Flashing Stone Cactus’ magic so effectively that they have become temporarily immune to it. Alternatively, they could get a different benefit, such as the bright flash of light illuminating something significant that they would not have otherwise noticed.

Inspiration: 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.

 

Flashing 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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