Thunderclaw

A widespread herbaceous plant. It can be a bothersome obstacle or a varied resource.

I saw sparks down by the meadow, alert the rest of the village. Something may be coming our way.
— Greel, a village guard

Description

Bottlebrush_LyndaHinton.jpg
by Lynda Hinton
Thunderclaw is a medium-height plant. It is a plant of large green leaves when observed up close, yet fluffy white from a distance. This is due to white fuzz that tightly covers the surface of the leaves.   It reaches 1 meter tall once it is mature, and during flowering, the plant can reach heights of 1.5 meters tall, thanks to the elongated floral spikes.   The flowers are a beautiful bright, light pink and grow clustered together at the very top of the plant. They are pollinated by small insects, which flutter about the thunderclaw patches safely, as their minute body size does not trigger the thunderclaw's electricity release. The scent of the flowers is reminiscent of ozone.  

A unique method of seed dispersal

Thunderclaw seeds are relatively heavy in comparison to similar-sized plants. When the seeds mature, they fall onto the leaves, triggering the electric discharge. This sends the seeds scattering in all directions, usually at pretty impressive distances. The seeds need electricity not only for dispersal but also to germinate. Thunderclaw seeds which do not receive a substantial amount of electricity, do not grow.   Once the seeds have received a shock of electricity, they can only germinate if they receive a substantial amount of water in their first weeks of life. The seedlings do not produce electricity during this time, so they are particularly vulnerable to herbivorous predators.  

Harvesting

You don't harvest thunderclaw in foggy or rainy days, unless you want your skin crispy like a cooked witchetty grub. And never forget to keep the scythe's tassel touching the ground and away from you.
— An experienced thunderclaw harvester
 

The right tool

Scythes are the preferred tool to harvest thunderclaw with, as they put distance between the harvester and the plant.   The handle is made of wood, and a metallic tassel runs from the blade towards the ground. The tools are expensive, and most villages that practice thunderclaw harvesting only have one or two at hand.
scythe shilloute_HiClipart.png
by HiClipart

The right weather

Those humanoids who know how to harvest thunderclaw prefer to do it in dry and clear weather.   A superstition says Hei Feng visits the patches of thunderclaw and brings with him the storm. Thus, when the weather looks like it may storm, everyone stays clear of those patches, in fear of angering a god.

Uses

In Oceasile, grippli herbalists along the candle river use the thunderclaw in a variety of ways. Outside of this area, the plant is less common, and few uses are found for it.  
Medicinal
A poultice is made with the smashed leaves, which is applied to ulcers and boils.   The white fuzz of the leaves is scraped and used as bedding material for people suffering nightmares and other sleep problems.   The green parts are used in a tonic against feebleness, taken during seasonal changes.
Edible
Before the flower spike opens its buds, it is a prized snack. The buds are said to provide a "popping" feeling in the mouth with a sweet and sour taste.   Burrowing animals, however, live in between the root system. They are a prized catch and worth the effort of careful excavations under a patch of thunderclaw.
Other
The ashes of the leaves are used to purify a pond in preparation for gripplis' spawning. It is believed to kill any potential harmful creatures that may have been transported with the water into the newly created pond.   Teenagers sometimes play with the seeds, tossing them into a fire for a small blast of colour and sparks.
— Don't you dare take that torch anywhere close to the plants, you bloody idiot!   — I don't have time for your nature-loving speeches today, druid. We need to get through here.   — Do you want to start a firestorm? Because that is what you will get if you light a single plant on fire...
— A step away from a tragedy...
Distribution
Temperate woodlands and forests of all three continents
Other names
Lightening nettle
Wood spark
Thunder's seconds

Name origins

Many of the names given to this species are related to the Thunderbird, a species that shares its affinity with lightening.   Specifically, the name thunderclaw comes from a tale about a thunderbird who lost a claw in a fight.   The thunderbird was fighting for its territory against a pair of rocs. One of the rocs attacked the thunderbird's talons and managed to bite off several of its claws. These sprang a bolt of electricity damage, and the roc dropped them. These fell with lightning speed into the ground, where they sank into the wet mud.   After fending off the rocs, the thunderbird went back looking for its missing claws and dug around the area. It could not find its claws, but at least, it found a patch of a delightful plant that seemed to crackle with electricity as it moved past it.   What the thunderbird did not realise, is that it was their claws that had created the plant. The gripplies down in the ground, who had witnessed the fight and the claws falling into the ground, saw them sprouting from the ground before their own eyes. Thus, they decided to name the plant thunderclaw in honour of its origins.

Related articles

 
Thunderbird
Species | Sep 20, 2020

A gargantuan bird, who brings storms with them wherever they go.

I was tossing and turning. Could not sleep, you see? There was a small "tsk" sound and a bit of light around me. It happened two or three times. Yoonra told me the next day that is a signal the thunderfuzz caught a bad dream rounding about!. Bless her for collecting it earlier in the year.
— Ubolee, a grippli cured from her nightmares
 

Thunderclaw as environmental hazards

Thunderclaws can be a nuisance during the day, but they can be quite dangerous at night, due to their discharge of light, which quite often attracts predators. This, combined with their debilitating properties, can make it a problem for unsuspecting adventurers.  

Thunderclaw (CR 3)

Living creatures in contact with the thunderclaw's leaves take 1d4 electricity damage per round. Creatures must also make a DC 14 Will save or be staggered for 2 rounds.
 
In circumstances of normal light (such as during the day), the bright light discharged by the thunderclaw's electricity does not present an issue for creatures without light sensitivity or light blindness. At night, however, the sudden bright light leaves a creature blinded for 1d10 rounds unless they succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save. A creature with light sensitivity or blindness has to save regardless of the outside light conditions unless they are covering their eyes. They also have a -2 penalty on saves to resist the blindness.
 
The electricity release of the thunderclaws when disturbed reacts badly with fire. The flames crackle and expand with lightning speed in a 15 foot radius, burning everything in their wake. Targets within the radius blast take 2d6 fire damage and 2d6 electricity damage. A successful DC 16 Reflex save reduces the damage to half and prevents creatures from catching on fire. If the thunderclaw is close to other thunderclaws, this creates a chain reaction of lightning and flames which creates a small firestorm that can devastate the area (increase the radius of the explosions by 5 feet for every 10 plants in a cluster). The fire remains in the area for 1d10 hours and it is not extinguishable by mundane means. This can trigger forest fires.
 
A typical cluster is 20 feet in radius, but they may vary (1d8 x 5 feet), with one plant per 5 foot. usually A typical cluster thus contains between around 44 plants, and the radius blast, when exposed to fire, and subsequent fire is 35 feet radius (from the edge of the cluster).


Cover image: by MGatta (via HeroForge)

Comments

Author's Notes

This article was created for the Peculiar Plants challenge of 2021.


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25 Mar, 2021 22:48

Oh very intersting plant! The seed dispersal of this plant is quite original, I have not seen somthing like that before.Love the origin story that you added as well! A few of the sentences in that section seem a bit odd though so perhaps they should be changed a bit.   The CR section at the bottom was a nice addition as well! It seems the plant can be used for a lot of things so I understand why the people go through that much effort to gather them.

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
31 Mar, 2021 17:10

Hi, thanks so much for the feedback! The sidebar did indeed need quite a bit of work. That's what happens when you want to push through and get the article published instead of delaying it further...   I have now reworked it, I hope it reads better.

25 Mar, 2021 22:50

This is so cool! I love the origin story, and the different uses for the plant. I also can vividly picture the seed dispersal. I wish I could see it in real life (from a safe distance)!

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
31 Mar, 2021 17:10

Hehehe, yeah! That'd be quite a spectacle, considering the seeds would start triggering each other :P

26 Mar, 2021 03:37

I really like this. Interesting mechanics, seed dispersal and lore.

31 Mar, 2021 17:12

Thanks! I wanted to make sure something that fit in my world but that I could also throw to players in my PF campaign.

26 Mar, 2021 07:42

Oooh wonderful article!! This is a really interesting plant you wrote about, and you made it feel very real too! I love that its used to capture nightmares, its a really lovely aspect culture wise :D

Author of Interarcanum.
31 Mar, 2021 17:16

Hi, thanks for the enthusiasm! All I will say is that whether or not the nightmare capturing properties are real is not quite clear :P

26 Mar, 2021 23:16

Your quotes throughout really being it to life. I love the exchange with the Druid, and your notes on the harvesting methods were really fun and well considered.

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities, and Vazdimet, its darker spacefaring future.
31 Mar, 2021 17:17

Thanks, Angela! I definitely made use of the science channel in discord to figure out how could one harvest this type of plant without being electrocuted xD

27 Mar, 2021 01:34

This was a fun read. I really like that the seeds require a shock of electricity in order to germinate and I like the chain reaction that occurs when one catches on fire.

- Hello from Valayo! And Happy Summer Camp!
31 Mar, 2021 17:17

Hihihi, I'm so glad!

Journeyman N4th
James Slaven
28 Mar, 2021 11:24

Great read! I really enjoy all the quotes, hearing from the people who've lived with Thunderclaw really brings the article to life. In terms of typos I could only find two suggestions: (1) "Scythes are the preferred TOOL..." and (2) "The ashes of the leaves are used to purify a pond in preparation for A grippli's spawning." Otherwise, great job!

31 Mar, 2021 17:20

Hi, James!   Thanks so much for spotting those typos. They have been fixed during the editing process, so hopefully the article reads better now. I'm really glad you enjoyed the quotes; they are a fun but sometimes challenging part of making an article.

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
28 Mar, 2021 21:19

This is such a cool idea! And its sounds plausible for the tree to use that as a reproduction mechanism.   I love your quote " A step away from a tragedy..." and your story about the origin of the plant. I also love the different uses you have for your plant, especially the eating it for the "popping" feeling.   I just have a small suggestion: you didn't explain who/what the grippli are. A tooltip explanation would help here as I had to look that up.

31 Mar, 2021 17:22

Hello, Amélie!   You are completely correct. I love tooltips and I didn't include any in the article initially. Thanks for the suggestion, I have done it now (as well as done some editing), so hopefully, the article reads better now.   I'm so glad you enjoyed the uses and the seed dispersal mechanism, thanks for the comment :D

Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
30 Mar, 2021 22:57

I liked the use of the side panel for the connection to the Thunderbird. Also, I liked the writing and lore at the top and then the CR Panel at the bottom.

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
31 Mar, 2021 17:22

Thanks, George, I appreciate it!

Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
6 Apr, 2021 23:37

I came back to check on your updates. It there supposed to be a frog picture on top now?

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
7 Apr, 2021 06:30

Yes, why, you don't see it?

Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
8 Apr, 2021 03:16

I see it displaying, I didn't think it was a primarily Grippli plant. I see now the quote at the top is probably a Grippli guard. I hadn't caught anything about them until the Uses section so was imagining it different.

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
8 Apr, 2021 06:43

It is not primarily a grippli plant, but the article focuses on one specific area (since that is where my players are, that is where my worldbuilding focus is). I figured it'd be really useful for people not used to Pathfinder to see what gripplis are and how a harvester looks like.

Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
9 Apr, 2021 14:52

Yeah, makes sense. I did see the tool he is holding was the harvesting tool and that helped me put the pieces together.

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
31 Mar, 2021 09:02

Hi! Congratulation on this entry, it's a very well done article. Your use of BBcode and personalized CSS really tie together the whole description.   Regarding the content, I particularly liked the bits of mythology and folklore around that plant: that it was created by a thunderbird, that it cures from nightmares...   Is that plant flowering all year round, or is it seasonal? Is it possible to use it as a defense (or alert) mechanism in the way someone did in the introduction?   Also, is the plant persistent over the years? Or is it annual, or biannual?

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
4 Apr, 2021 06:30

Thanks so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it.   I have answers to most of the questions. Some didn't make it due to space (I feel the entry is already quite long), some I preferred to infer rather than outright say. I'll definitely have to think about its lifecycle though, thanks for asking about it.  

Seasonal.
— Is that plant flowering all year round, or is it seasonal?
 
Yes, it is.
— Is it possible to use it as a defense (or alert) mechanism in the way someone did in the introduction?
I have not decided yet. I figured it could be a case of resprouting from roots, so while the plant dies, they often come back in the same area. But, I haven't made a decission.
— Also, is the plant persistent over the years?
 
Don't know yet either.
— Or is it annual, or biannual?

Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
31 Mar, 2021 11:33

What an interesting plant. I like every part of the article, but especially the part about how the plant got its name. Also, I think I spotted one typo. Under Name Origins the last paragraph start with: While the thunderbird did not realize. I think the first word needs to be what. Excellent article!

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
4 Apr, 2021 06:31

Thanks so much, Rynn! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I have now fixed the typo, much appreciated!

Journeyman Gege16
Gege Escriva
31 Mar, 2021 19:12

Very nice plant and interesting article! It was fun to read! Surely the seed dispersal method is pretty original, is interesting that the plant can produce electricity!   I like a lot the contrasts between its beneficial uses and its hazardous nature especially in the momentof harvest, a move in the wrong way and pzz! You're fried xD (literally!)   The information is pretty detailed and the quotes are funny! Hehe

Explore the Kingdom of Moskova with me!   Is time for  Summer Camp!  
4 Apr, 2021 06:32

Hahaha, yeah. I wanted to make a plant that is worth the risk, maybe... ;)

3 Apr, 2021 16:40

A fascinating species! I see a lot of toxic or carnivorous plants in this challenge, so one based on electricity is a wonderful surprise! Very creative, especially the way it interacts with fire and spreads the flames rapidly. The "a step away from tragedy" quote sets the scene beautifully - seems like a universal truth that people never listen to the experts... I also love the details such as the special precautions necessary for harvesting the plant, or the kids playfully tossing the seeds into fires. Lots of interesting ideas here, great work!

creator of the Kaleidoscope System, an alien star system shaped by a colorful radiation source   SummerCamp 2021 Pledge Document
4 Apr, 2021 06:33

Hi, Kathrin!   Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad you found the article enjoyable and unique.

10 Apr, 2021 21:33

Oh this is fantastic! What a great unique idea, and wonderfully thought out -- especially with the seed dispersal and germination! I particularly like the care needed to harvest them, with grounded, + wooden handled tools. I love this.


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
16 Apr, 2021 18:01

Hey Storm!   Thanks so much, I'm glad you enjoyed the idea. It was definitely fun to think out and figure out how would people manage to harvest it.

16 Apr, 2021 17:23

That's an interesting way of reproducing, but I am curious why seeing the plant spark at a distance might be an indication something's approaching?

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
16 Apr, 2021 17:59

Hi, Michael!   Because the plant only produces electricity when something big enough brushes past it (except during a period of seed dispersal). Most animals of an area will know to avoid the plant (day or night), intruders/people not knowledgeable of the area or the plant, will go through it, and get a painful surprise.   I hope that makes sense!

16 Apr, 2021 18:12

Check, so it means something/someone unfamiliar is nearby.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young