Saturday, February 27, 2021

Strawberry Fields Forever

Something terrifying is growing near the village of Snailshingle; something other that threatens to consume the town...

The Situation

On the southern shore of Shining Lake sits Snailshingle, a picturesque village known only for the beautiful and tasty abalone found in their waters.  Locals harvest the plentiful snails for meat, and to use their iridescent lavender shells in jewelry-making.  There was a small problem a few years ago when one of the snails grew quite large and intelligent, but rather than let him start to think of himself as king of the snails, the savvy villagers taught him about adventuring and barrow-delving, equipped him with top-notch gear, and sent him on his way, apprenticed to a group of mercenaries that were passing through. Today, the charismatic whelk called Lawrence of the Lute is considered a local hero, and he even owns a stake in the pub that overlooks the beach.

Beyond the pink stucco walls of the tiny homes of Snailshingle are a series of gentle hills which were once host to surprisingly soft fescue that bore a faint cinnamon scent.  Today, however, those hills smell chiefly of strawberry - for they are covered with massive strawberry plants which seemingly came out of nowhere, sprouting and spreading over several weeks last Spring.

The folk of Wampus Country are a food-focused people, so you can imagine that the Snailshinglers rapidly descended on the newly-grown strawberry plants, seeking to harvest the succulent, sweet fruit the moment it was suitably large and red.  Tragically, the harvest went the other direction.  First, several villagers were found passed out at the edge of the strawberry patch; a few days later, the first corpse was discovered.  Word spread quickly - the strawberries were not to be plucked.  A party was dispatched to burn the strawberry field, but they retreated back to the town after two of their number started to bleed from their ears and collapsed.  One thing was certain: something was protecting the strawberries.  After a town meeting, a fence was erected some distance from the edge of the field, surrounding it.  The local priests march to the field each day and hurl blessings over the fence, in hopes of stemming the tide of the strawberry plants.


The Truth

The strawberries now grow plump and crimson year-round.  Those who touch the fruit immediately lose 2d4 hit points via blood loss, as the flesh of the hungry vampire strawberries rapidly exsanguinates them.  Hostile movements toward the plants invite psychic attack from the hive-consciousness among the strawberry plants.

The interconnected plant colony is - or perhaps was - a visitor from another plane or timeline, an intelligent strawberry plant of considerable psychic power.  Arriving in Wampus Country by unknown means, it planted itself and began to spawn... resulting in the current situation outside Snailshingle.  The underlying intelligence can probably be contacted via speak with plants - it can no longer utter humanoid tongues.  If contacted and negotiated with, the genius-intelligence plant may be convinced to be less dangerous to the villagers, but in exchange it will want assistance in investigating this world, reproducing peacefully, and achieving its own goals.  The strawberry-creature is capable of growing a pseudo-humanoid body in a matter of days, and investing it with a portion of its life force and mind.  This creature may make a fair sidekick for the right frontiersman.  Alternately, the plant-creature might be convinced, cajoled, or bullied into calving off a piece of itself into the shape of some other animal - a steed, a wolf, or even a hawk - to serve as a mount, companion, or familiar.



Creation notes: To give an impression of how we come up with things around here, this blogpost has its origin in the five-year-old saying something random about a 'vampire strawberry'.  The fifteen-year-old riffed on this, musing that a vampire strawberry would better be deemed a 'suckleberry'.  Fair point.  Contemplating this, I remembered a mutant strawberry plant I played in a Metamorphosis Alpha game at North Texas RPGCon... and thus we have a blogpost.

12 comments:

  1. Ideas tend to gestalt in my head the same way (from my 6 year old and 10 year old). Difference is, I don't write them down often enough.

    This is a great post, by the way.
    ; )

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  2. My last Metamorphosis Alpha character was a bioluminescent mutant pumpkin plant predictably named Jack. It would have approved of this concept. Interesting genesis of the idea, I may have to acquire a child or two for inspiration. They've always seemed a little high upkeep to me, though.

    Sadly, most of my players would probably resort to long range bombardment of the strawberry patch with flaming catapult ammunition, or perhaps some homebrewed weed killer (vinegar and lye and salt are an effective mix) if they were feeling less pyromaniacal than usual. The odds of them establishing peaceful communications seem low, especially after the thing killed someone already. I suppose they might be more willing to chat if the whole patch uprooted itself and lumbered after their improvised artillery park after being set on fire. Most likely too late for negotiations by then, though.

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