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1  Santharian World Development / The Santharian Herbarium / Re: Thorn Moss on: 04 August 2014, 09:08:21
My internet has finally allowed me to get on and finish this. Corrections and additions are, appropriate, in this lovely colour!

And of course I clumsily repeat words to give you something to do, Arti! It has absolutely nothing to do with my current inability to proof read. Certainly not. grin
2  Santharian World Development / The Santharian Herbarium / Thorn Moss on: 01 August 2014, 00:49:37
Herbarium>Moss & Fungi>Thorn Moss
Herbarium>Medicinal Herbs>Poisonous Herbs

It has been said that nothing in the Hovel Frond, a dangerous forest just north of the Tandala Highlands, has been untouched by the corruption of the Diorye'oleal's magic, and the Thorn Moss is a strong argument for the validity of that statement. A fibrous mass of dark tangles and poisonous thorns, it is thoroughly unnatural in appearance, one could go so far as to call it nightmarish, and most definitely it's quite unlike any other known moss. The elves of the Hovel Frond harvest the moss for its poison and various alchemical uses.

Thorn Moss can be, for the uninitiated, hard to find and identify. Preferring the darkest and wettest nooks and crevasses, it is unlikely to be seen in the first place, and appears so removed from what moss should look like that it more often thought to be a bush. Thorn Moss is a dark green in colour, appearing black from a distance, and very thick. The individual fibres can become as thick as a man's finger, and clump together in a tight mass that can, in the largest specimens, spread for peds and rise half a fore. Often they grow in and around objects, weaving about trees, rocks and various bits of detritus.

The thorns from which the moss derives its name grow haphazardly from individual fibres, but they are small, only about a nailsbreadth long at most, hooked and very fragile. They are almost impossible to remove without causing tissue damage to oneself, or, worse, breaking them, which releases the deadly poison contained therein. The poison itself is a clear liquid with a yellow tint and has been compared to bile more than once, and is about as viscous as honey.

The plant's root system is shallow and thin, but closely packed together. Thorn Moss grows in very wet places, and doesn't need to reach very deep to attain the water it needs, nor does it have to be solidly anchored to the soil due to the protection of the forest from heavy winds. Due to the configuration of the roots, it is very easy to uproot entire sections of the moss and plant them elsewhere, assuming, of course, you manage not to poison yourself.

Thorn Moss is found almost exclusively in the Hovel Frond, a dangerous Northern Sarvonian forest, growing both wild and cultivated by the enigmatic Frond elves. There is a small amount grown in New-Santhala for research, from which much of the specific information recorded here was gleaned. On a darker note, a sizeable amount of the research population went missing during the preparation of this article; one can only assume what may happen if samples fell into the hands of unsavoury characters...

Special Abilities:
As previously stated Thorn Moss is incredibly poisonous, capable of inducing fever, sweats, hysterical delusions, convulsions and death (never soon enough). With the exception of the Diorye'oleal, no species, sentient or not, bothers with the plant and most denizens of the Frond steer clear of it - those that don't are usually dead. Lesser known is the mild hallucinogenic effect of the moss fibres, discovered by accident in the research halls of New-Santhala; it is unknown if these effects can be caused by ingestion, as no one has been willing to test it, even in the name of knowledge.

The Frond elves harvest the moss for the poison in its thorns, which they put to various uses; in a diluted solution it is used to bring their Ash'mari slaves to the heights of maddened battle rage. The Moss's poison is also used to coat weapons and arrows in a deadly poison for war and hunting, and, it is rumoured, for recreational and ceremonial use in extremely diluted doses. Dark rituals, decadent parties and worse are said to require the use of the poison, but this last use should be taken with a grain of salt, as the information was taken from prisoners and fighters during the Kuglimz Wars, and may be a piece of propaganda meant to rile anger.

The use of the moss fibres as a recreational drug have been confirmed and validated by various other reports and investigations, including Diorye'oleal prisoners who were questioned during the Kuglimz Wars. Experimentation with the effects in New-Santhala yielded various results; for elves, the fumes cause a pleasant 'airy' experience, thought to be caused by that race's connection to Wind. In humans, the effect is less pleasant, causing headaches, sweats and paranoia. Dwarves and orcs have proven, rather predictably, to be impervious to its effects, and (perhaps wisely) no experiments were undertaken to determine its effects on the smaller races.

Thorn Moss reproduces asexually by spores. In the late spring, as temperatures begin to warm again, the fibres begin to enlarge and sprout small spore pods, about the size of a dwarf's thumb. During the warmest months these pods release spores, which seem to hang in the air at times, and form mock dust storms at others. Wherever these spores end up, provided the environment is moist and dark enough, the moss will grow and thrive. Thorn Moss's method of reproduction is thought to have been influenced by its arcane origins. The lifespan of Thorn Moss seems to be indefinite. As long as the root system remains, the moss will continuously regrown and attempt to spread further out.
3  Santharian World Development / The Santharian Herbarium / Re: Starstem Grass on: 29 July 2014, 17:33:54
Bear with me on the British spelling, please, I'm not used to it, and even on the rare occasions that I slow down and think about it, my word processor tells me I'm wrong.

Changes are in pink! Mostly grammar and spelling, also added some speculation under the territory heading about why the grass only grows in the Gulch. Also added a lore section, explaining the origin of the name. Not sure if it's acceptable or not, though, but a correction is only a click away!
4  Santharian World Development / The Santharian Herbarium / Starstem Grass on: 27 July 2014, 05:20:18
Well, here it is. First (attempted) entry. I had to go back and rewrite the appearance section, as I realized I was using too modern terminology - I doubt Santharians know what a rhizome is, after all... Not too confident about how it reads after the change, I feel like it reads rather choppy. I tried to stick to British spellings as well, but, as I am not British, I may have missed some of them.


Ubiquitous on the Grasslands of Hylach, Starstem is a short, delicate grass that is considered quite attractive, as far as grass grows. It is highly desired by the horse breeders of Courtford for its high nutritional content and the real and perceived health benefits it confers to the horses. There is also a minor trade of Starstem sod, primarily between settlements on and surrounding the Hylach, as it does not travel well.

Starstem is a dainty looking plant, being quite thin and growing up to 1/3 ped long, but is structurally sturdy, with a stiff, purplish sheath that keeps individual blades from being blown over in the often fierce winds of the Grasslands. The blades, generally numbering 3-4, taper to a thin point and 'droop' to one side, pointing their fronts skyward and exposing as much of itself to the sunshine as possible. It is distinguished by its dark colour, a greyish green that remains vibrant even in the depths of winter, when its neighbours have paled to an occasionally sickly pallor. The seed heads cluster in groups of four spikes at the tip of the blade, with each spike being 2-3 nailsbreadths long, while the florets grow in small spikelets along each blade in groups of 3 or 4.

The Starstem's root system is deep and wide, greedy for whatever water and nutrients it can hoard, and during droughts can extend up to 2 peds deep. It has developed a two-tiered root system, consisting of the larger, tougher primary system, and the auxiliary, which consists of many smaller, softer and more delicate roots that grow haphazardly down, seeking nutrients. As a rather aggressive species, its auxiliary system can often be found entwined with the roots of neighbouring grasses, trying to crowd out its neighbours, at which it often temporarily succeeds at, until the next period of instability causes it to regress. Even in the harshest conditions, Starstem can effectively lay dormant, as long as its primary root system can retain enough nutrients and water to survive until conditions topside can improve.

Despite its outward fragility, Starstem is quite hardy. Even when patches die, due to unseasonal rains (when the grass over-saturates itself, killing off most of its auxiliary root system and blades) extended droughts and extreme wind, the primary root system remains. Experienced horse breeders of the Hylach will point to a 'dead' patch of grass, and bring you back to it in a few days, where Starstem will have sprouted anew.

Starstem is native to the Grasslands of Hylach were it serves as an important pillar for the local horse breeding industry. Because of its nutritional density it has been transplanted to other pastures in Southern and Northern Sarvonia, but these experiments are more often failures or yield less than desirable results - the Starstem is well adapted to its homeland, and little else.

Why Starstem is so particular to the Hylach is a subject of much speculation. One of the more popular reasons put forward is that Starstem grew as a mutation from its neighbour species, Strongrass, after Gnomes (or alchemists; the guilty party often changes depending on whom one is asking) discarded waste from a failed experiment aiming to create plants that could grow in the desert. A less popular one, but one with somewhat more scholarly support, is that Starstem is the descendant of grass affected by magic during the War of the Chosen.

Perhaps the most commonly believed, if not the most commonly shared theory is that Starstem was created by Jeyriall for the Hylach, saddened after seeing how little grew. She created a grass that was both pleasing and healthy to the creatures that lived there and decreed that, because they had lived in a harsh land without complaint, Starstem would be their's, and their's alone.

Incredibly nutritious and boasting a myriad of (sometimes far-fetched) health benefits, Starstem is favoured by horse breeders and ranches. Courtford in particular has what could be called a love affair with the grass, and some intrepid breeders have tried various ways to encourage its growth at the expense of others. Some have harvested strips of sod to transplant to other areas, and while this has proven more successful than attempting to grow Starstem from seed in new pastures, it hasn't exploded into the lucrative market these entrepreneurs had envisioned.

Some of the health benefits attributed to the grass includes;
- Increased endurance
- Greater strength
- Healthier coats
- Healthier offspring and easier pregnancies
- Greater intelligence
- Increased obedience
- Any number of more obscure benefits, often depending on who one is asking
While the benefits are often overstated, the horses bred in Courtford are often said to have truly magnificent coats and to be quite easy to train... though the latter may simply be a product of the horse breeder's experience and the animal's contentedness with the sweet grass. It cannot be said if any of the other benefits are true or not, but, at the very least, many people believe in them.

Starting in the early summer the florets of the male plants begin producing their pollen, which is then blown about by the wind. The grass will continue to produce pollen until the fall, provided there are enough nutrients and water, about which time the seed heads - fertilized, or unfertilized - drop off and are blown along the ground or through the air. The animals that graze the grasslands also play an important role in seed dispersal, if not the primary one, spreading seeds through their dung. Indeed, most Santharian horticulturists agree that, nowadays at least, Starstem is dispersed primarily by animals, rather than the wind.

Starstem is a cornerstone of the Hylach's health, and an important part of Courtford's horse breeding industry. The men of Courtford realize that the health of their horses, and by extension their livelihood, hinges on the overall health of the grasslands and specifically that of the grasses their stock feeds on. The Starstem in particular is, as stated before, highly desirable, to the point where herdsman often gauge the potential success of the coming year by the health of the plant.

‘Everyone knows’ that Starstem is named as such because of its star shaped stem. This is demonstrably not true, as the grass lacks any peculiar stem shape, and the actual origin of the name remained a mystery many years. The true origin of the name comes from the previously mentioned tale, wherein Jeyriall gifted the plant to the animals of the Hylach. In the old local dialect, the word 'star' was used to refer to anything celestial or relating to the gods, while 'stem' comes from a word pronounced as 'staam', which was a catch-all term for grasses, grains and moss. Star staam, in the old dialects, could be taken to mean 'grass from the sky' or 'grass from the gods'.
5  Organization and General Discussions / Newbie Information, Joining Requests and Recruitment / Hello? on: 26 July 2014, 11:17:46
Is anyone still around at the moment? The boards seem to be in hibernation, but I would like to try my hand at development, particularly plants (I like plants). I think it would be good exercise, as I leave for boot camp in December, and my assigned job is writing intensive.

More importantly, this site is easily the most unique thing I've ever come across and I would like to contribute to its continuation in my own, small way.  :)
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