Sunday, February 19, 2017

I am a mushroom on whom the dew of heaven drops now and then. (Pathfinder)

Don't worry, they're plants, they don't have any naughty bits. Art By: Me

Author's Note: This is my first attempt at making a race/monster that isn't out of a surrealist hallucination or a Clive Barker novel. I present to you the Xochi, named after the Aztec god Xochipilli, the patron of fertility, homosexual men, and male prostitutes. He is thought to be the patron of entheogenic mushrooms, due to certain interpretations of a statue devoted to him. While the background of this race can be dark, depending on what the GM chooses, they are, for the most part, more fantastical/whimsical than my normal creations. In this post I have included stats for: a player race, a new piece of equipment, two new kinds of armor, and a form of resurrection with a murderous origin. I used Pathfinder / DnD 3.X for the game system of this post, though I have included other systems in other versions of this post. As always, I am keen to see your thoughts, critiques, and suggestions for this post. The art is of my own creation, the photographs are not.

Background of the Xochi
Spore children, spread through the world by ever-striding titan mothers after decades of gestation. Born fully grown, they crawl from their spore pods fully capable (in theory) of interacting with a harsh world as would adults of other species. However, this world, or yours, can be far more dangerous than their in-born capabilities can adapt to.

As with many other plant species, it is a question of quantity over quality when it comes to the production of young that might mature to propagate the species. The passage of five centuries is needed for a Xochi to run the full course of life to reach maturation. At the end of their journey to maturity is a hulking form the size of a small fort, striding through the world to fill it with more of its kind. After twenty years of gestating hundreds of spore pods, this titanic mother will expel a cloud of pods that travel miles on organic chemical rockets. 

'Ghost-Pipe' Mushrooms
 
Once landed, or more precisely after an impact with the ground, the Xochi will emerge from their pod clad in leafy clothes, or armor. From that point on, they are to wander the world with the hope that they will survive the five centuries to eventually mature enough to become a nigh-invincible hulk. Their in-born knowledge comes from their mother, imperfectly copied into their minds. While whimsical and fantastic, such creatures could not come about through natural means. So, how did these wonderfully mad creatures come about?

Artisanals, creators of living art, gods from one perspective, mad artists from another. Whispered about in salons where the occult is in fashion, mentioned in books that are best left unread, they are beings who have played at being creators for centuries in search of a mad esthetic. Whether they are gods, or mortals risen to such heights of power, their powers are undeniable.

Numbers unknown, they each have their own 'style', and apply it to the creation of entire species. Some create species of one, be they god-like creatures who live for centuries or fragile beings whose lives can be measured in days, they are crafted for some unknowable purpose. Others create limited populations that thrive or fade in a particular area of a world. What all the creations share in common is that they are soon abandoned by the creators, lacking the ineffable quality the Artisanals search for in their creations. 

'Latticed Stinkhorn' Mushroom
 
Who these Artisinals are is purely within the realm of rumor, with no concrete facts available. What is known is that they have banded together in the past to create species towards similar goals.

Rumors of Origin
  1. Powerful Mages: A group of mages, obsessed with both biology and art, who gained a level of power through knowledge and arcana.
  2. Children of Men and Gods: They are a group of demi-gods/goddesses, who through shared interests in life and art, banded together for mutual empowerment and creation.
  3. Empowered Artists: A force of nature, a god(ess), or even an empowered concept has chosen a group of artists and given them an immense amount of power to fulfill their creative whims.
  4. Art as a Natural Force: Strange, but just as possible, is that the Artisinals are forces of nature that create life based upon baroque/arcane esthetics. Perhaps, they are the manifestations of a universal mindscape shared by artists?

The Xochi Themselves
But, what of the Xochi themselves? Who are they? How do they act? More over, why do the vast majority of them die before reaching their five-hundredth year?

Their general personality can be summed up in two words: innocently naive. They are born with a host of vague memories that might explain the world in an academic sense, yet they are devoid of the hard won instincts a brutal world ingrains in its residents. This lacking is often the cause of a young Xochi's demise. As with any innocence, it can spur them on to acts of altruism or casual cruelty.

Needing little in the ways of creature comforts, they can survive on the nutrients found in the dirt of any world. As with so many creatures, they need roughly eight hours of sleep, which they often fulfill by sleeping partially buried in the ground. After four hours, they have taken enough nutrition from the soil that surrounds them, allowing them to 'binge' for the remaining four hours. 

Mycena Interrupta
 
Xochi culture has only a vague existence, without a set of rituals or language, merely a host of shared vague memories. They tend to avoid one another, a natural proclivity to spread out as far as possible in the hopes of maturing to a final form. This avoidance also acts as a form of population control for the mother-titans, since a banding survival strategy may result in the creation of more mother-titans than an area could handle.

As to why the majority of these creatures die off before maturing, there are two options open to the possible GM using this race:

Adventure Genre: To reach this final form they must gain a great deal of experience with the world they live in. These experiences drive the maturation process, forcing certain changes on the body that spark the final maturation process. While the five-hundred year mark is a given way of reaching this end, an adventuresome Xochi might reach it sooner after a long career (though much shorter than 500 years) exploring the far reaches of the world. Most Xochi take this avenue towards their final maturation, which means that most die in deep dungeons or in the jaws of an angry monster. Those few that survive can willing enter into the metamorphosis for their final form.
In Game Terms: Once a character reaches the highest level possible for their class/job, their player may retire the character with the knowledge that said character will live on as a nigh-invincible titan roaming the world.

Dark / Gritty Genre: The Xochi are hunted. Either a purposeful choice by the Artisanals, or by mere happenstance, has made it so that the body parts of the Xochi are highly valued by drug manufacturers and back-alley healers. The majority of their organs can be used to create powerful, and highly addictive, illicit drugs that have similar effects as those of opioids. Only a small amount of these drugs are needed to send individuals into a high that can last for hours, meaning they can be cut (the real-world term: stepped on) many times and still retain their potency. Their hearts, referred to as Seed-Hearts, can actually resurrect someone who has died recently, making them a highly valued commodity; though they can also be rendered through the use of alchemy to rejuvenate the body of an ailing/aged individual. This rejuvenating ability is the most often used, since it is usually aged monarchs and merchant princes who are capable of paying the high price that is demanded. Finally, and most horrifically, are those who exploit the Xochi's regenerative abilities. A Xochi can regrow a lost limb after a month of healing, these limbs can be easily grafted onto any other race simply by removing the skin of the stump and pressing the new limb to it. Many Xochi have been captured and put into 'Pruning Houses', large warehouses where their limbs are removed periodically to fill the orders of back-alley doctors. In this way, these poor souls are forced to live through years of a nightmarish existence, only to succumb to one of the many 'natural' deaths that plague so many other species. More often than not, and perhaps mercifully, the Xochi are quickly killed for the incredible amount of money a single Xochi body can be sold for.

Phellodon-Sinclairii

Xochi Physiology
On average they are shorter than humans, though not by much.
Their skin in smooth, and ranges from darker yellows to olive greens.
They lack any form of sex, being truly androgynous, though they may take on a particular gender as an affectation.
While they are plants, they share a number qualities with animals that gives them a similar functionality to the more common races of sentient beings.
As with all fungus they don't do well with bright light as well as extreme heat.
If at least half of their body is buried in fertile dirt for at least four hours, they can gain as much nutrients as they need for a full day.
As with other plants, they have a highly efficient digestive system, which allows them to consume both plant matter and meat.
They have no need for waste elimination, so they lack the organs and orifices to do so. There are rumors of some Xochi who have sought out certain bio-mages to modify their bodies so as to fit a particular gender affectation they take on.
They are a hearty race, more so than average humans, but moreover they are also rather quick. They are semi-cephalized, having a 'brain' that acts as an organizing organ for other sub-brains throughout the body. These sub-brains, allow for the Xochi to react quicker than normal to external stimuli do the the shorter distance between the effected area and the system that controls it.

Pathfinder / DnD 3.X

Racial Statistics
+2 to Dexterity
+2 to Constitution
-2 to Wisdom

The Xochi are fast and healthy, but their lack of experience tends to make the inattentive to the world around them.

Traits
Their Creature Type is Humanoid (Xochi)
Xochi have the Dark-Vision vision racial trait.
Xochi are resistant to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms), they receive a +2 bonus against them.
Xochi are resistant to paralysis, poison, polymorph, sleep effects, and stunning, they receive a +2 bonus against them.
Xochi breathe, eat, and sleep.
Xochi can receive a full day's worth of nutrition by spending at least 4 hours half-buried in fertile soil.
Abrupt exposure to bright light blinds Xochi for 1 round; on subsequent rounds, they are dazzled as long as they remain in the affected area.
Xochi can see perfectly in darkness of any kind, including that created by spells such as deeper darkness.
Xochi are vulnerable to areas of extreme dryness as well as exposure to extreme heat. They take a -2 penalties to all saves and rolls to avoid fatigue, exhaustion, or ill effects due to extremely hot or dry environments. Furthermore, they take -2 to all saves versus fire based effects.

Adventure Genre Option: The Xochi take another +2 bonus against all Fear effects due to being driven towards risk taking in the hopes of furthering their journey towards maturation. Unfortunately, they do not receive their normal bonus against any effect that would promote a form of risk taking.

Dark / Gritty Genre Option: Xochi can regrow any lost limb after a month, though during that month they are at -2 to all mental stats per lost limb due to losing the sub-brains that were in the limb. Unfortunately, this also means they are hunted by those who would kill them for the money their bodies would bring. This means there is a high likelihood that the character will run afoul of unscrupulous individuals while in urban areas. A Xochi body can sell for as much as 6,000 gp to the right buyer.

Xochi Equipment
If a Titan-Mother senses that its 'children' are being killed off due to a particular environmental hazard or predation, the next generation will be born with certain items that will help with their survival. Even if the Titan-Mother doesn't sense a persistent danger to its 'children' often they emerge from their pods with a random bit of equipment. These pieces of equipment will at times be sold by their owners, or sold off as swag by those who murdered them for their body parts.

Weird gloves, you could be called Edward/Edna Fungus-Hands (Waka-Waka!). Art By: Me

Fungal Climbing Gloves
900 gp
These living gloves have strong hair-like protrusions that give the wearer a much surer grip. At base they grant a +3 bonus to all climbing checks, a +1 bonus to CMB for all grapple attempts, and a +1 bonus to CMD against all disarm attempts. By sacrificing 1 HP to the gloves, these bonuses are doubled for an hour. This sacrifice is a standard action that doesn't provoke an attack of opportunity.

All natural and bio-degradable. Art By: Me

Light Fungal Armor
Cost: 2,500 gp
This living armor is made from small plates of fungus and layers of tough grass. It is considered to be made of natural materials, so a druid may wear this armor. While this armor is made for medium sized creatures, a small or large creature may sacrifice 3 HP to the armor once to make it grow or shrink to their size permanently; this sacrificed HP may be healed normally. This armor is considered masterwork for the purposes of enchanting it. The main draw to this armor is its ability to absorb a small amount of damage before it reaches its wearer. A character may sacrifice 1 HP as a standard action (no attack of opportunity) for the armor to absorb up to 5 HP worth of damage the wearer would normally take; in essence, this works as 5 temporary hit-points. This bonus protection lasts for 1 hour, once the 5 temporary hit-points are gone due to damage, this ability may not be reactivated for a whole hour from the time the damage was taken.

Armor Bonus: +3
Check Penalty: 0
Max Dex: +6
Arcane Failure: 10%
Speed Penalty: None
Weight: 7 lbs

Mushroom Samurai!!! Art By: Me

Medium Fungal Armor
Cost: 5,000 gp
This living armor is made from large plates of fungus and layers of tough grass. It is considered to be made of natural materials, so a druid may wear this armor. While this armor is made for medium sized creatures, a small or large creature may sacrifice 6 HP to the armor once to make it grow or shrink to their size permanently; this sacrificed HP may be healed normally. This armor is considered masterwork for the purposes of enchanting it. The main draw to this armor is its ability to absorb a small amount of damage before it reaches its wearer. A character may sacrifice 2 HP as a standard action (no attack of opportunity) for the armor to absorb up to 10 HP worth of damage the wearer would normally take; in essence, this works as 10 temporary hit-points. This bonus protection lasts for 1 hour, once the 10 temporary hit-points are gone due to damage, this ability may not be reactivated for a whole hour from the time the damage was taken.

Armor Bonus: +6
Check Penalty: -3
Max Dex: +3
Arcane Failure: 20%
Speed Penalty: 30 ft to 20 ft, 20 ft to 15 ft
Weight: 15 lbs

No Xochi were hurt to make this picture. Art By: Me

Seed-Heart
Cost: 1,800 gp
The Seed-Heart is a heart of a Xochi, meaning one was killed in order to get it. In very rare cases a Xochi will willingly give up their life so that another may live. This Seed-Heart is roughly the size of an adult's fist and has a teardrop shape.

Resurrection Use
The thin portion of the seed must placed in the mouth, or body, of creature who has been dead for no more than 6 months and that body must be buried in fertile soil. If these criteria are met, after 1D10+1 days a green pod will grow out of the soil, the pod will be the same size as the creature buried. Moments after the pod reaches full sized, a green tinged perfect copy of the buried creature bursts forth. The copy has all the same memories of the original, as well as the same number of hit-dice and class levels as the original. The GM may decide that the copy also has the same amount of experience points as the original. The copy will have an a nagging feeling that they are merely a copy. There is no game mechanic to describe this, but players are encouraged to role play out this new personality quirk. Finally, the copy is incapable of digesting meat, so must adjust their diet accordingly. The original body is destroyed in the creation of the copy, making it completely impossible to resurrect it.

Revitalizing Use
A single heart may be broken down by an alchemist (DC 25 Alchemy skill check) and turned into a potion that returns an individual to perfect health and to the prime age for their race (late teens to early twenties for humans). Drinking the potion removes all diseases, magical and natural, as well as the effects of all poisons. In theory a person could live forever provided they periodically drink these potions. With an indefinite shelf life, a very rich individual could buy multiple potions to ensure that they are prepared for multiple lifetimes.