I stumbled 'cross a flower once,Rotroot is a parasitic plant that grows and lives for a short period of time within other creatures. A host creature that is infested with rotroot will typically die within 9-12 days from starvation, asphyxiation, and/or organ failure; a host's organs are pushed aside and slowly crushed by the rotroot growing within the creature's gut. An infestation causes its host to simultaneously appear emaciated and pregnant.
I thought it young and alone.
Then I realized
She, not it,
Had not been fully grown.
There is no cure for a rotroot infestation; once the plant has taken root within its host, the creature is certain to die. Barkroot is touted as a 'cure' of sorts, though it's not without its own side-effects.
Rotroot is almost entirely made up of roots, and for most of its life lacks any kind of stem, leaf, or flower. Its roots are so extensive that they form a dense root ball within the host which is what gives the appearance of pregnancy. Once a rotroot plant is fully grown, it sprouts a stem through its host's respiratory system to such a length that it can then flower outside of its host. A rotroot flower (~25-35 cm in diameter) is opaque, white, and does not produce pollen. It's not known what sort of biological function the flower serves.
Genetics and Reproduction
Rotroot uses two main methods to infest new hosts. Firstly, when scavengers feed on its host's corpse, there's a chance that a scavenger might accidentally ingest a piece of the rotroot. Once ingested, the offshoot quickly takes root within its new host, and begins another infestation. Secondly, the rotroot flower, itself, bears seeds. Once ingested, these seeds, too, will take root within a host, and grow anew. Alternatively, when the bloated corpse of its host finally ruptures, the seeds are carried on the wind until they are, hopefully, inhaled by an unsuspecting creature.
It's a strange thing to walk through Gallowfield in the heat of midsummer and see not a single window ajar, every last one of them shuttered by wary Gallowans; old Katinkan folk tales warn of the winds that carry rotroot seeds. For should they blow through a home, they bring with them the curse of many childless years.
Growth Rate & Stages
Rotroot either grows from seed or via offshoot. Either way, the plant grows exceptionally fast within its host; it typically takes it 9-12 days to become fully grown. During this time, it leeches nutrients from its host, as parasitic lifeforms do. As it grows, its roots form a dense root ball which only serves to cause its host incredible pain and ensure its demise. Once a rotroot plant is fully grown, it takes just 3-5 days for the plant to sprout a stem that can reach through its host's respiratory system until finally it can flower outside of its host's corpse. Once it's flowered, the plant will die after 11-13 days without a new living host. For the entire length of this period, the plant is capable of infesting a new host. In the event that the plant fails to take root within a new host, the flower will begin to wilt, signalling the final death of the plant.
Ecology and Habitats
Rotroot is a parasite; it lives inside of a host creature. Possible host creatures include mammals, birds, and insects. While rotroot thrives in the sunlight-deprived environment of the Everunder Trail, it is theorized that rotroot is acutely sunlight sensitive and, therefore, cannot flower above ground. This is particularly problematic for the rotroot plant because if it can't flower once it has killed its host, its only possible method for reproduction is through accidental ingestion, the chances of which decrease as its host's corpse decays.
Once a rotroot plant's host has died and the host's corpse has decayed, the root structure (and sometimes the flower, if left undisturbed) is all that's left behind. At this point, the plant will have also died, though the root structure's rigid form is maintained, creating a haunting semblance of the creature it once infested.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
A rotroot flower can be used as an alternative material component in magical incantations. Specifically, a ground flower (seeds and all) can be used as an alternative material component for the Revivify spell. Despite its life-saving applications, it is rarely available for sale since most governments have criminalized its sale and the possession of it. Besides being criminalized, it's also considered taboo within most cultures to harvest the flower of someone who has died from a rotroot infestation.
They say that the petals of a wilting rotroot flower are used in all sorts of dark arcane rituals. For instance, a single wilting rotroot petal might be used as an alternative material component during a Deny Rest ritual... one would suppose.
A rotroot plant that has infested a host creature will grow to be 5-10% of its host's bodyweight, at which point it is fully grown and will kill the host.
Barkroot is a known 'cure' for rotroot infestations. If an individual or livestock infested with rotroot ingests a root from a barkroot plant, the barkroot, as it grows, will destroy the infesting root ball. While barkroot will destroy rotroot, it, itself, will grow in in the place of the rotroot (though not to the same size or extent), though its host will not die from the new infestation and can live with it. Barkroot must be ingested within the first five days of a rotroot infestation in order to destroy the infestation before it kills its host. A successul barkroot infestation has several side-effects on its host that last until the barkroot plant dies:
- If the host is still an adolescent, it'll cease to grow any further, though it will continue to age.
- If it isn't already, the host becomes vulnerable to slashing damage, and resistant to piercing damage.
- The host gains +1 Constitution and loses 5 feet of movement.
- The host has advantage on Constitution saving throws made to resist contracting a disease.
Rotroot root ball by Thea Smc
Remove these ads. Join the Worldbuilders Guild