Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Petalord

 Velvet, passionate, verdant, beautiful, wild, rich, beloved of lovers.


A rose is a metaphor so beautiful and perfect in its own right that it fully deserves all the cultural and personal adoration it receives. It grows, as love does. It has thorns, as love does. It unfolds into a beatific blossom, as love does.

Let it grow, and it runs wild. Prune it, and it only blossoms more. 

Developing an infatuation is called "pricking the rose". Jilting a lover is "pruning the bud". When a rosebud is presented to a lover, it serves the same purpose as an engagement ring. That rosebud, always a white rosebud, is typically preserved by magic, and taken into the couple's bed on their wedding night. Legend has it the rose will turn red and blossom in the morning if the new spouses have been faithful to each other. The rose is then planted, and nurtured. The tenements in most major cities are crammed full of roses feeding off the light through the ventilation hole penetrating the center of the building. Some plants have survived for decades in the stench of the cities, and a well-pruned rose bush is a sign of dutiful potential in-laws.

Naturally, roses are the ingredients in most love spells.



White roses plant a romantic love that might grow naturally or die naturally. It reopens eyes to possibility. Any possibility.

Red roses to cause love to instantly blossom.

Yellow roses to cause one to become jealous of another's love, whether it be fraternal, platonic, familial, or romantic.

Orange to make someone pine away with passion.

Pink to induce homicide for love.

Purple to castrate someone of their ability to love.

Silver to gain great beauty. (Has a 10% chance to create a medusae out of the person it's used on.)

Gold to transfer beauty from one person to another.

Black to induce immediate nymphomania and necrophilia. (Has a 5% chance to give the target ghoul fever and a 1% chance to infect them with the curse of the Wendigo.)

there are no black roses in nature


Assassin's houses and the domains of hags are often filled with every color and variety of rose. These foul creatures and artists of death understand that there are few better ways to kill mortals through a jealous lover. Forced affection corrodes people from the inside out. "Uncooked ooze" is a euphemism for a love potion.

Having a brother declare his incestuous love for his sister who's already betrothed to a prince, and then kill them both in front of an entire royal court with a soul-stealing dagger to prevent resurrection is beautiful revenge or the perfect time to stage a coup. Kings are driven insane, empresses kill their male consorts, muftis rape their mothers and murder their fathers. Kingdoms fall.

For every piece of love conceived by a rose, a piece of death comes into the world. Every time a couple truly in love consummates their relationship, a jealous ex stabs his former girlfriend to death after murdering her current paramour. 

The Petalord feeds off all this. 

Originally, the rose was two separate parts. Thorny brackleberries soaked their roots in blood while green tumors grew on trees like gall but then budded to reveal beautiful flowers that floated on the winds, dispersing fluffy seeds. "Catching a rose" was, and still is, understood to mean chasing after someone and finally securing their love. 

Then follows the immortal story of Kyasuk and Puhyrra, Yia and Chu, Gurre and Liare, Pyramus and Thisbe. 

That night, before he encountered the lion, Pyramus showed Thisbe a white rose through the crack in the wall. He promised to present it to her when they met, which they never did. As he impaled himself on his sword, the rose was soaked through with his blood, which splashed on a nearby brackleberry tree. 

When Thisbe came to investigate, the brackleberry, aroused by fresh blood, killed her.

When an archetypical event occurs, reality ripples. This event is implanted solidly in the memories of the muses, and passed down through the ages by their artist-puppets. The souls directly associated with the event gain great symbolic power and become eligible for direct angelhood or demonhood. Those entities that claim them gain a source of power and gain a named servant, one whose form and strength will persist throughout the centuries as long their story is remembered. 

And so the Prince of Love and the Thornweaver fought, and as they both lay dying in the forest the Prince of Love accepted the Thornweaver into them, forever joining the rose blossom and the bracklebush to form the rosevine, symbol of a new covenant.  

Cedric Plante, people. Behold the glory.

Remember, child of man, as you take the scent of the blossom as your own, that you doom another to pain and bloody death. The scent wafts away your cares and your sense and travels down to the Petalord in its leafy bed, wrenching at its essence. For the Petalord is a divided god, with two natures, and one gaining in strength and trying to rip free from the forced bond would mean the death of both. Balance must be had in love and death to preserve the joined godsouls, forever dependent on the other. The Petalord is powerless to move from its bed, but love travels invisibly over winds and worlds and planes, truly fit to be a messenger of death, whispering corruptions in the ear of mortals.

Rosevines bind love to this earth as surely as they bind the two weakened gods together. 

So be more careful in courting than in any other act: war, magery, rulership. 

Because the Petalord does not care from where the blood flows from, only that it flows. 

Adventure Hooks (1d8)

1. The adventurers are hired as bodyguards for the daughter of a local lord and her fiance. Their task is to prevent anything horrible from happening to them before they get married. Unfortunately, one of the two is beautiful (Cha 16+) and has some admirers who resent being passed over for someone of higher social status.

2. The adventurers, walking away from a tavern, see a burly figure swathed in thick greycloth robes stalking a slimmer figure, and a metallic glint.

3. The adventurers are hired as Preventatives to locate and stop brutal crime from happening (or to clean it up and dispose of the perpetrators discreetly) so a small community mostly composed of winter homes for the wealthy can retain its reputation as a peaceful retreat. Their boss appears to be a dandified pseudo-closeted fop but is actually a member of the Society of Floating Blossoms, a network dedicated to separating the two gods by ensuring that the violence brought upon mortals by love is stopped, thereby weakening the Thornweaver. The Floating Blossoms have received information about a local feud that is about to resolve in a massacre, which they hope the adventurers will prevent.

4. The adventurers are suddenly hired or gang-pressed into stealing a rare violet rosevine back from the person or thing that carried it off. If they object, one of them will be taken hostage. Unbeknownst to them, the rich baroness is actually a member of the Grasping Vines, dedicated cultists of the Thornweaver with diametrically opposed goals to the Floating Blossoms. Oh, and the flower was stolen from the assassin's guild, who wants it back. 

5. The adventurers see and hear a couple being deeply and obnoxiously in love while strolling somewhere, and later here a drunken, rough voice, a piercing scream and a wet thud/gurgle that both sound familiar nearby.

6. A person that the adventurers care about or know well that lives far away is married. Recently, their letters to the adventurers have hinted that their spouse is acting jealous and odd, and their most recent letter should have come 6 days ago...

7. The party stumbles upon a mostly silent group rape. The person being raped has some local repute, and the rapers do not intend to leave them or any potential witnesses alive. Unfortunately, they are mercenaries of no small magical and martial skill and orders to carry out an important mission for a powerful ally of the adventurers (Or the king). They bear the symbol of the ally on their cloaks.

8. There has been a rash of murders and accidents lately. These are largely unconnected except for a rose left nearby or planted in the victim's chest. The victims are all young boys and girls between 8 and 12. A 6-year old child warlock whose closest friend is "Mister Rose" - the Petalord - is committing the murders. The child was friends with most of the deceased and is confused why Mister Rose wants all their pals dead.

 

Important Announcement

I do not and will never endorse, condone or support sexual or domestic violence, nor will I joke about it. I also sincerely apologize if the content above is offensive to some readers, and I will remove it if anyone objects. My point is to shine a spotlight on a part of life that rarely appears in games.   

Minions of the Petalord

The Petalord's reach is further than the longest wind and strong enough to creep into the warded hearts of liches, but it is bound to its thorny bed. So it employs many agents, sending some to fly on the astral winds and some to crawl through the soil. Common ones and a few rarer ones are spotlighted here. (I added proficiency bonus to all the attack bonuses, FYI. 5e dies hard.)

Cherubims neutral evil, celestial
AC 14 (vine armor, counts as leather) HD 2 Speed fly 50 ft Size Small 
Str 10 Dex 16 Con 12 Int 13 Wis 11 Cha 17
Ethereal: Can switch between the Ethereal and Material planes as a bonus action. While in the Ethereal Plane, the Cherubim cannot be hit by any attacks or targeted by spells and is invisible, but can watch events going on in the Material Plane.
Immunity to all non-magical weapon damage and poison, along with the poisoned condition. 
Horrifying Visage: As per the ghost feature.
Possession: As per the ghost feature, except it can be used on plants as well as humans, and can turn any plant it inhabits into a twig blight, needle blight, or vine blight, depending on the plant. It cannot animate plants larger than Medium size or an Int higher than 5. Cherubims prefer humans above any other humanoid and rosevines above any other plant. They must be in the Material Plane to possess a creature.
Invisibility: The Cherubim can turn invisible as a reaction to taking damage or as an action. It stays invisible until it attacks, makes an ability check, or forces a creature to make a saving throw.
Cupid's Bow: +5 to hit, 1d6 + 2 piercing damage. Once per day, the Cherubim may shoot a variety of rose (each rose 1/day) instead of an arrow. These roses have +9 to hit and deal no damage.
  1. Red: The target must make a Hard Cha save or fall deeply in love with a humanoid of the Cherubim's choice within sight. This effect is permanent but could possibly be removed with remove curse
  2. Orange: The target must make a Normal Cha save or feel such powerful, nameless affection that they gain a level of exhaustion.
  3. Yellow: The target must make a Normal Cha save or instantly become corrosively jealous of another party member that's already in a relationship or a friend of said party member.
Death Rose: The Cherubim may perform a melee attack with this black thorn growing out of their left wrist with +7 to hit. Whether the attack hits or misses, the Cherubim shrivels up and dies, leaving behind some dried rose petals and a lock of hair. If the attack hits, the target must make a Hard Con save or take 4d4 + 4 poison damage and have the seed of a Death Rose implanted inside them (Death Rose detailed below.)
 
Cherubims are sadistic emissaries of the Petalord who enjoy inflicting pain and possessing or charming people to mutilate others. They are often used as assassins and will stalk their targets before using a proxy to kill them. 

They appear, when they choose to reveal themselves, as babies with blotchy reddish skin running with sores through which vines and rose blossoms protrude. Their ragged wings are threaded with leafy vines, and their faces are infantile but deeply etched from anger and pain. 

Death Rose chaotic evil, plant
AC 13 (natural armor) HD lots Speed crawl 5 ft Size Variable (usually Medium/Large)
Str 15 Dex 13 Con 17 Int Wis 12 Cha 10
Parfum: The death rose emits a wonderfully full-bodied scent that can be smelled up to 80 feet away. Any creature that is able to smell this scent must make a Normal Con save or be drawn towards the rose to sniff a flower. If a creature successfully saves, it can't be affected by this scent for a day.
Flesh as Soil: If a creature is within 5 feet of a death rose, the rose can use an action to brush a branch past it and attempt to implant a seed. The rose makes an attack roll with +6 to hit (the attack has advantage if the creature is affected by the rose's scent or charmed by the rose). On a hit, the creature is now incubating a death rose seed. If the creature is unconscious and at 0 HP, it rises on the start of the rose's next turn as a vine zombie.

  • Death Rose Gestation: The period of growth is 1d4 weeks. The one symptom (60% chance to manifest) is a small bulge in the chest area that is hard, inflamed and hollow-sounding. One round before the rose erupts, the target begins feeling queasy and has sudden chest pains. When the rose emerges, the creature must make a Hard Con save. On a failure, it drops to 0 HP and is restrained/unconscious as the rose begins rooting itself. If there is no dirt/soil around the target when the rose is mature, it will wait until the target is around soil again. If the target dies while parasitized by the rose, it rises 1 round later as a vine zombie.
Spellcasting: The rose knows the spells hunter's mark, charm person, hold person, and ray of sickness, and can cast them at-will. It can charm as many people as it can, but the charm dissipates if the target is taken more than 2 miles away from the rose or is rendered unable to smell. 
Blossomlord: The rose can cast hunter's mark on a number of targets equal to its Con mod. These targets are covered in rose blossoms, and if a creature spends an action scraping the blossoms off, hunter's mark is ended for that target. Note that the rose can renew hunter's mark.
Entrapments: As an action, the rose selects a 20 x 20 ft. square within 150 feet. Each creature hostile to the rose must make a Normal Str save or be restrained and take 2d8 + 3 piercing damage. Every time an unrestrained hostile creature leaves the square's space or starts its turn in the square, it must make a Normal Dex save or take 2d8 + 3 piercing damage and be restrained. Hostile creatures that start their turn restrained in the square take 2d8 + 3 piercing damage.
Ankletwister: +6 to hit, 1d12 + 3 damage, range 80 feet. If the target is hit, it is pulled 10 feet in a direction of the rose's choice. Treat it as a melee attack because the vine pops up out of the ground. Have it make as many of these as you want per turn.
Thorn: +6 to hit, 2d4 exploding damage, because the thorn contains tendrils which violently extravasate when they hit flesh. Again, as many attacks as you want.

Vine Zombie chaotic evil, plant
Stats as zombie, but has more intelligence. Can speak/understand the languages it did when it died.
Deathless: As puppets of a death rose, these poor creatures can usually be reanimated. Every time a vine zombie is reduced to zero HP, roll 1d6: on 1-5, the zombie reanimates in 1d4 turns. Every time the zombie "dies" after the first, add +1 to the roll.
String-soldier: Vine zombies use their death rose controller's Con mod for bonuses to hit and damage. They can also never willingly move more than 200 feet away from the rose. If they do, they die (but can be reanimated if brought back to the rose).
Bludgeon: +5 to hit, 1d8 + 5 damage.
Sting: +5 to hit, 6 damage, range 60/120 feet.

Vine zombies are dead corpses that have been reanimated by a death rose. They are imperfectly puppeted by the rose and retain some fragment of sanity and memory. If a spellcasting creature or creature with levels is turned into a zombie, there is a 20% chance they retain 1d4 spells or class abilities.

Rosebud
This is a person who is beginning to grow beyond animal flesh. Often, their skin and sclera are subtly tinted green.
Stats as commoner but they have 1d4 raised ability scores. Typically they specialize, with high Int/Wis rosebuds coordinating/leading and high Dex/Str/Con rosebuds doing physical work. High Cha rosebuds are priests.
Telepathy: Every rosebud is in direct telepathic contact with a death rose.
Plantflesh: Rosebuds have immunity to all plant-derived toxins and resistance to poison damage.
 
This is a template to apply to potential worshipers of the Thornweaver/Petalord.
 
Bleak Dahlias 
Sometimes a lover is chosen to balance the scales of love through death. Sometimes that lover is forced to murder their true love. Cherubims relish this event, and will incite the butcherer (for killing love is only butchery) to commit suicide. Then the cherubim will defoul its victim's soul and insert a cutting of a immortal plant into the corpse. Agonizing days pass as the plant regrows dead tissue and then subsides. 

The soul is now bound to a grotesque shell. 


What is your purpose in life after you have killed the thing you valued most?