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Kerilynth's Gore Vine

Written by Candarin

Jarik's boots crunched through the snow as he approached the crumbling ruins, weapons drawn. Stones lay strewn about, all covered with snow. A broad-leafed vine gripped a partially standing tower, it's leaves black, drooping, and with a cover of fresh powder. The vine looked to be the only thing keeping the tower up, Jarik thought. He could see no sign's of danger or habitation, so he called back to his two compatriots following a short distance behind. "It looks all clear."   He approached closer to the ruins and eyed off a low section of wall just to the right of the dead vine. A way in.   Suddenly, a sharp pain entered his foot and he cried out. Lifting his foot he saw a black point protruding from the ground, maybe two inches long and sharp as a dagger. Blood glistened on it's tip. Waving a hand behind him, he called out. "It's ok I think. It's just a sharp stick or something..."   Even as he finished speaking, he realised that something was at work within his body. His vision became blurred and he struggled to form words. He turned, thinking to get away, but he found himself falling instead. As he hit the ground, his numbed body barely registered more spikes piercing his flesh.   As Jarik's blood seeped into the ground, a hint of green returned to the vine's leaves...
  Created in a past age by the sorceror Kerilynth, the Gore Vine is a magically constructed living plant, comprised of elements from various natural subjects and imbued with a magical life force, granting it animal-like intelligence.   It's primary purpose is that of a guardian, protecting an area or structure from unwanted visitors.  

Appearance

The Gore Vine's appearance holds more than a passing similarity to a wild grape wine. Indeed, with sufficient feeding, it can produce grape-like fruit, as mentioned later. It has broad leaves, tendrils, and its branches and trunk become woody as it matures.  
Adventurer's have this annoying habit of breaking into other peoples secret towers just to steal anything that isn't bolted down. Pit traps and mimic's have been done to death, so I've prepared this one to give them a bit of a surprise.
— Kerilynth
 

Tactics

The Gore Vine lies in wait for creatures to appraoch, then extends it's thorns. It will usually wait a small period of time to allow the thorns and poison to work, and if creatures are still moving withinn it's reach, it will then attack them with it's tendrils.

Basic Information

Anatomy

Foliage

In addition to it's broad, five-pointed leaves, a perceptive viewer may also notice the coiled tendrils that the plant keeps close to it's branches, hidden beneath the leaves. While they look similar to a climbing plants normal creeper tendrils, these are in fact an offensive appendage. When threatened, or when attempting to finish off a victim of it's thorn poison, these appendages unravel and whip out at adversaries, slashing them with the sharp growths along the tendril or entangling them and drawing them back towards the plant.  

Root System

The Gore Vine possesses a shallow but strong root system that spreads around the plant, just below the surface. These roots provide stability but only provide minimal nutrients in the conventional sense. Their true use lies in the ability to extend and retract thorns. When extended, the tips sit only one to two inches above the surface. The thorns are exceptionally sharp and also carry a potent poison, which is administered to anyone unfortunate to step upon them.  

Fruit

The fruit of this plant is much like that of a regular grape vine. Small juicy translucent berries form in bunches, and change color as they ripen. They start a pale green, turn dark purple as they approach ripeness, then finally change to almost black. When ripe, the sweet berries are a potent poison, but with careful administering, the fermentation process kills off the poison, producing an exceptional wine with healing properties. Although surviving records are rare, it has been noted to be a cure for even magical diseases. Clearly, if the fermentation process is incomplete, an inexperienced vintner may inadvertently produce a deadly beverage.  

Internal Structure

The key component of this plant/construct hybrid is a magical crystal which is embedded within the plant during it's creation. The magic within this crystal is enough to keep the plant alive indefinitely, although without sustenance the plant will enter a dormant state where it's leaves become blackened and wilted. The magical nature of the plant does provide it with properties not present in regular plant-life, most prominent of these it's animalistic intelligence and regenerative ability.   As may be surmised, should the crystal remain intact, even the total destruction of the plant will not actually result in it's destruction. It's regenerative powers will begin restoring it almost immediately.
"Jarik!" Hyanthi called out again as she ran toward her fallen friend. She kept an eye to the ground for the spike Jarik had mentioned, but hidden as they were in the snow, she failed to notice the many others, and also felt a sting to her foot. Falling to her knees, she fumbled for a potion on her belt, almost dropping it in her haste.   "Quick, drink it!" Kleax said intensely, although he kept his distance and remained leaning on his staff. Hyanthi quaffed the potion even as she felt the tell-tail signs of a poison beginning it's effect, although that effect dissipated as quickly as it came on. She breathed a sigh of relief and turned to help Jarik.   "Er, Hyanthi, was that vine green a minute ago?" Kleax said, lookingly closely at it. Hyanthi looked up, concerned. "No. No plants like that could survive in cold like this. Wait. I think it's regenerating!"   Hyanthi scrambled to her feet and attempted to draw her axe, but she was too late. Three whip-like tendrils uncoiled from the now-green vine, and lashed out at Hyanthi. One slashed her midsection, leaving a deep laceration, the second, a slash across her face. The third tendril wrapped around her neck and pulled tight.   Cursing, Kleax hastily fetched a wad of bat guano from his belt pouch and began an incantation...

Genetics and Reproduction

Genetically, this plant is most similar to that of a wild grape vine, grafted with some other poisonous varieties. It's structure is then heavily modified to accept the magical crystal during the creation process. This magical creation process does leave it infertile by design however, as it would almost certainly cause widespread damage should it be left to spread widely.

Growth Rate & Stages

Active

In it's active state, the plant appears like any other. Only a keen observer is likely to spot any unusual characteristics. In this state, it will actively look for prey via it's senses, and will react accordingly.  

Sleep

This state could be considered close to being hypnotised. The plant retracts it's thorns and stops attacking, and will ignore any potential prey. This state is effectively a safe guard for the creator, and can be triggered in two ways. Firstly, at the time of creation, a number of small linked crystals are created. When one is brought within around 50 feet of the plant, the main crystal will magically detect their presence, triggering the sleep mode. Additionally, a 'song' of sorts is programmed into the plant that will also trigger this effect. The song comprises of a pattern of strikes and pauses, usually around five beats long. This pattern can be stamped out on the ground around the plant, which will sense it and react accordingly. Clearly, this could be distorted or affects by rocks or similar in the ground, and one can't really be sure the plant has heard it until approached.  

Dormancy

Without regular feeding, dormancy will set in after a few weeks. The plant's leaves will turn black and wilted, and it will use it's last energy to extend it's root thorns to increase the chances of feeding. With it's magical power of regeneration, only a small amount of nutritional matter, i.e. flesh or blood, is needed to return the plant to it's normal active state. This transition can take as little as one minute.  

Maturity

With regular feeding, the plant will mature after around a decade. At this time, it gains the ability to produce fruit. Strangely, fruit production follows regular biological patterns, and is not subject to to it's regenerative ability. Fruit forms during the periods of warmer weather and increased sunlight

Dietary Needs and Habits

The Gore Vine requires and gathers it's nutritional requirements in standard ways, such as through photosynthesis and absorption through the root structure. To support it's increased magical intellect however, it also requires nutrients not commonly found in the soil, such as iron and fatty acids. These can be found via decomposing corpses or similar, which can be absorbed by the shallow roots. A single humanoid form left to rot into the soil would provide sufficient nutrients for a month or more.   A discerning gardender, after triggering the plants sleep mode, will bury meat around the plant to allow it to feed rather than deal with the stench of rotting meat around his abode.  
A ball of flame erupted about the vine as Kleax spoke the magical incantation and threw the ball of bat guano. Leaves and branches withered as the flame engulfed them, but the tendril around Hyanthi's neck stayed firm. Hyanthi gasped for breath as the vine dragged her in. "Help" she gasped.   The plant looked damaged, but was certainly not defeated. A second ball of bat guano joined the first, triggering another burst of flame which also engulfed Hyanthi. She screamed and fell forwards, but appeared to be free of the strangling tendril. The vine was now on fire in places and severely disfigured. Kleax had seen enough to be wary though, and summoned a globe of fire that he positioned amongst the vines branches. With cracks and pops the vine burnt, leaving only blackened branches and split trunk.   Hyanthi groaned in pain, bleeding and burnt. Jarik lay unmoving, but Kleax remained stationary. He kept his sphere of flame on the vine and studied it closely for any sign of growth or movement. He had fought trolls before and knew that fire prevented regeneration, but was taking no chances. Deciding that the plant was indeed no longer active, he approached catiously, clearing the snow with his staff and stepping only on clear ground. He reached Jarik first. He was pale and cold, and likely already dead. He continued to Hyanthi. She was alive but badly hurt. Kleax attempted to lift her, but was unable to move far. Using his magic, he summoned an invisible plane of energy that he lay Hyanthi upon, then he turned to retrace his steps away.   An urgent, fearful groan escaped Hyanthi's lips and Kleax swung around to find the vine alive again! Tendrils whipped about in a frenzy, knocking his staff away and grabbing him by the wrists. He was dragged forwards as more tendrils ensnared his limbs and slashed his body. Ever closer to the trunk he was dragged, until he was right up against it. A tendril slowly slid around his neck, almost in a caress, and as his vision faded, he saw inside the trunk a glowing crystal. 'Fascinating' he thought, as the world grew dark.

Additional Information

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

The magical nature of the Gore Vine provides it with senses beyond those of a normal plant. While it doesn't possess sight, it's sensive root system can detect vibrations in the earth, allowing it to detect the precise location of creatures moving on the ground. Subtle vibrations are also collected through the foliage, and when combined, the Gore Vine is essentially able to see well enough for precise targeting of it's tendrils. It's rudimentally intelligence is also sufficient for it to learn and to target threats, particularly when damage is dealt to it.

Magical Construction

Requirements

To create a Gore Vine, the following are required:
  • A suitable arcane sanctum, free from distractions and contamination.
  • An arcane formula.
  • A number of living plant samples. Grape viness are not required specifically, and variants involving other climbing plants are possible.
  • A primary crystal or gem of high value to serve as the magical receptical.
  • A number of secondary crystals or gems to serve as 'keys' (see 'Sleep Mode').
  • Some biological matter from a creature able to regenerate.

Process

The formula dictates how the biological samples are combined and includes incantations to recite during the five day process.
It took many years of arduous study and experimentation to finally perfect this creation. At times I questioned my own sanity in pursuing such a project. Watching it devour that first party of adventurers made it all worthwhile though. Never give up on your dreams.
— Kerilynth

Gore Vine

Large Plant, unaligned
Armor Class
13 (natural armor)
Hit Points
57 (6d12 + 18)
Speed
0

STR
20 (+5)
DEX
16 (+3)
CON
16 (+3)
INT
5 (-3)
WIS
10 (+0)
CHA
8 (-1)

Damage Resistances
cold
Damage Immunities
poison
Condition Immunities
blinded, deafened, exhaustion, prone
Senses
blindsight 30 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive perception 10
Languages
-
Challenge
5 (1,800 XP)

False Appearance.
While the Gore Vine remains motionless, it is almost indistinguishable from a normal plant, requiring a perception check of 18 to notice something unusual.  
Regeneration.
The Gore Vine regains 10 hit points at the start of it's turn. If the Gore Vine takes acid or fire damage, this trait doesn't function at the start of the Gore Vine's next turn. The Gore Vine dies only if it starts it's turn on 0 hit points, doesn't regenerate, and has had it's crystal removed or destroyed.

Actions

Multiattack.
The assassin vine can make three melee attacks in any combination of slash or constrict attacks.  
Constrict.
Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 30 ft., one creature. Hit: The target takes 15 (3d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage, and it is grappled (escape DC 15). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and it takes 12 (2d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage at the start of each of its turns. The vine can constrict up to two targets at a time.  
Slash.
Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 30 ft., one creature. Hit: The target takes 15 (2d6 + 5) slashing damage.  
Thorns.
As a bonus action, the Gore Vine can extend or retract it's thorns. The thorns fill a 60 ft. circle around the Gore Vine, but only where there is natural ground. Creatures walking through the area must make a DC 15 Dexterity save or be poisoned. The thorns can be spotted with a DC 18 Perception check. If a creature is aware of the thorns, they can move through the area as if it were difficult terrain and have advantage on the Dexterity save.

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Comments

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
9 Apr, 2021 17:24

Great article! I love your creepy plant XD Those roots and hidden thorns are devious! And Kerilynth seems like a nice guy XD   I really love all of your quotes and the continuous narration. Starting with the first bit of narration is great since we don't know what to expect (even if I expected a dangerous plant) and so the thorn was a surprise. And I like seeing them die one by one while illustrating the different aspects of the plant XD   " Adventurer's have this annoying habit of breaking into other peoples secret towers just to steal anything that isn't bolted down." XD   " t infertile by design however,, as it would almost" you have two commas here   " Clearly, this could be distorted or affects by rocks or similar in the ground, and one can't really be sure the plant has heard it until approached." Nice XD   So if the owner doesn't feed the plant regularly, it will become dormant and extend its thorns and the owner cannot use the sleep trigger and go into/leave their home   Does it only produce fruits as a remnant of what it was before the magic was added and it was transformed? Since the current version of the plant cannot reproduce and fruits are useless.   " nutrients not commonly found in the soil, just as iron and fatty acids." You want to use "such as" rather than" just as".   So the vine absorbs the blood directly right? Does it put tendrils inside corpse/meat and then liquefy them with some poison before absorbing them? Or does it just take the blood from the corpses? Does It takes everything it can from the corpses or is there anything left afterwards to decompose and enrich the soil in nutrients?   " Watching it devour that first party of adventurers made it all worthwhile though. Never give up on your dreams." XD Very nice ending line there! XD

11 Apr, 2021 12:34

Thanks for the comment and feedback, it's very much appreciated! Minor typos fixed.

10 Apr, 2021 16:35

Really nice article! You added some stats to it as well which is always a nice addition. Those quotes that were added throughout were a lot of fun as well.   'Adventurer's have this annoying habit of breaking into other peoples secret towers just to steal anything that isn't bolted down.' I understand why people would want to use this as a GM xp I sense some frustration for the rogues there :p   The last part where you actually explained the creation of the vine was a cool addition as well. Nicely done!

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
11 Apr, 2021 12:34

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, it is much appreciated.

15 Apr, 2021 15:38

Hey Candarin!   First things first, nice fully developed stat block in your sidebar. It's definitely something I could implement in my games without issue. Also your opening aloud is excellently written and it's filled with intrigue that drew me in as a reader. I like the frequency you flip between explanation and story.

Minor edit suggestions:
1) You wrote "down to death" but I think you mean "done to death" in your quote by Kerilynth.
2) You have a capital i in "VIne" underneath Perception and Sensory Capabilities.
  My only other thought is it would be nice to have a custom cover image and maybe some art to break up your text. However, all-in-all, great article!

xtremepsy | Ölütanrı
Checkout my other favourite entries to the 2021 Peculiar Plant HERE!
Feel free to read, favourite, and comment on my entry, Digivine.
3 May, 2021 06:55

Thanks for the feedback. I'm always keen to hear it. I'll fix up those typo's shortly.   Yeah, would have loved to get some art done for it, but I don't get heaps of time with a 3yo and 6mo :).

15 Apr, 2021 22:28

Nice stats on the side, and explanation + fiction in the main article. Definitely a scary plant, and the construct of a sadist. One of my characters is researching similar defense mechanisms...   A few tiny spelling errors I noticed: You have a bunch of "it's" where you mean "its", and "nagically" once.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
3 May, 2021 06:56

Thanks for the feedback. I'll fix them up shortly.