Date: Tue 25 May 1993 - 16:31:20 EEST
Paul R. here. A tidbit I am working on, comments invited. Note that their is a bit at the end which is only included for Netters.
QUAKING VINES Pamaltelan plant life includes a family of vines that are capable of limited movement which are collectively referred to as Quaking Vines. Most vines are ordinary plants incapable of such movement.
These vines grow in a tangle between great trees and are capable of a sudden contraction which is triggered by sensitive hairs that can detect when an animal is trying to work its way through the vines. Once the contraction is triggered the vine will hold on with stickers and a vise like grip, possibly trapping the animal. For game purposes treat this as a grapple attack to immobilize with a skill and strength depending on the age and size of the vine. The initial contraction of larger vines will also do one point of damage to all unprotected hit locations from abrasion. Most of these vines prey on monkeys, birds, and rodents but some travellers report seeing very large creatures suspended in a web of monster vines.
>From the vine's point of view the idea is to trap the animal and thus the
precious nutrients contained in the animal's body. If the animal strangles, starves, or is trapped the greedy vines grow rootlets into its body to leach out those nutrients. Intelligent creatures can often free themselves with some work or if they have friends.
Aldryami often employ these vines in their defenses, and are able to grow them into clever traps using their Devise and Plant Lore skills.
These are probably related to Trap Vines but employ a slow and subtle motion to entrap sleeping animals. (Sleeping creatures should roll their Touch skill or POW * 5% to determine if the slow moving vines wake them.) Armor or clothing subtracts its ENC from the chance to wake up. A failure indicates entrapment as with Trap Vines, a fumble indicates that the creature is so completely entrapped as to require outside assistance to escape. A special or critical success indicates waking at the first touch and the waker may easily rescue any companions who are being overgrown.
Both Sleeper and Trap vines have evolved to appear as ordinary vines so as to fool monkeys or similarly intelligent animals who are aware of the existence of such hazards.
Quaking vines mimic the appearance of Trap vines but grow in areas richer in nutrients. They jerk when touched but are not powerful enough to trap animals. Their movement is thought to serve the function of protecting them from herbivores. They give their name to the entire family.
These vines occasionally writhe like snakes, possibly to discourage herbivores or to brush themselves free of feeding insects.
Of all Quaking Vines, these have the most subtle motion.They carry a vibration which cannot generally be seen but which can be detected by the human sense of touch as an irregular buzzing. The superior Aldryami touch sense can however discern intricate patterns to the buzzing which may carry meaning in the Aldryami touch-language.
These vines may grow to be kilometers long and they will repeat vibrations that they pick up at special pods which grow on the vine. The vibrations travel at over 100 kilometers per hour. The Yellow Elves of the jungles use these vines as a system of rapid communication, employing specially trained Runners to put messages in at the pods. By linking together the tendrils of one vine with the pods of another, a network of vines can be built up spanning hundreds of kilometers. It is thought that during the period of Errinoru's Empire that all the jungles of Pamaltela were interlinked by such a network, but currently each elf 'nation' has its own separate system. However, important messages can be carried by hand between different systems and thus emergency messages can cross the width of Pamaltela in little more than a day.
There are several drawback to the system. Message sometimes get distorted or lost. Perhaps most importantly, the vines will repeat whatever they 'hear' and spread it throughout the network, so that only one clear message can be carried at a time. Typically the system is used only for announcements of Aldryami ruling councils or emergency messages (fires, invasions, etc.) If multiple messages arrive at once, they may be irretrievably garbled. Care must be taken to avoid repeating loops and echoes.
Some sophisticated areas will have a royal network hundreds of kilometers in extent and many local networks to carry local messages. This avoids overloading the large area network. Elves have a largely non-coercive society, so that anyone may go to a pod and have a message sent, but the Runner who operates the pod will explain that the message will be carried to hundreds of message vines, costing many calories to send, and will ask if the elf initiating the message is really sure that he wants to do this.
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