Marigold - ROM, 23/Mar/05

Scientific name: Calendula Officinalis (member of daisy family)
AKA: Pot ~, Garden ~, Marybud, Holigold, Bull's Eyes
Lore: prevents harsh words, brings peace, helps find thieves, helps find unfaithfulness (helps find the anti-social?). Aids psychic powers, boosts charisma, helps block evil. Protects sleepers, blesses departed souls. Enhances vision of faery things. Many medicinal applications.

FREQUENCY: Very rare
ARMOUR CLASS: 7 (+3 for small size, as plants)
MOVE: 12"
HIT DICE: 1HP (or by character class level; no CON bonuses)
NO.OF ATTACKS: 1 (or by character class level)
DAMAGE/ATTACK: by weapon/unarmed combat
SPECIAL ATTACKS: mystic powers, see below
INTELLIGENCE: Exceptional (15)
ALIGNMENT: Neutral-Lawful (Good)
SIZE: S (1'-2') as plant, M (5') as elf
PSIONIC ABILITY: see mystic powers, below

Marigolds are magical plants, which in plant form precisely resemble animate marigold flowers, each with one flower (or bud, if they are not yet mature). These can 'speak' with a mental voice which can be heard and understood by any within 30' of them, unless they have mental defences blocking this, use their leaves as dextrous hands, and walk around on their roots. Close up, two small eyes and a mouth can be seen on the centre of the flower, and the mouth moves when they speak (on the bud, the eyes and mouth are on the side). While they are quite strong (about as a high average human), their 'heft' is restricted by their small size, and while they might trip someone, there is little they could do with human-sized weapons. They don't even have any breath to blow darts with. Marigolds can live on water, sunlight and the nutrients that they can draw from almost any soil, as long as they are minimally active, but if they have to, they can eat anything, through their roots, which can slowly break even the hardest of rock (or even metal). Their food of preferance is fruit, without harming any associated seeds or nuts.

Marigolds have a second form, as a faintly green-skinned attractive female elf, with hair the many colours of the marigold flowers, and green blood. These are about 5' tall, can speak out loud (with a very flexible voice) and eat with their mouths, and are quite capable of using weapons, though they are reasonably peaceful, and rarely start fights. This form appears dressed in brown or green clothes, which blend into the undergrowth (60% Hide in Shadows), though they have the magical talent to re-shape, or re-colour, their clothes as they like (they can also change the quality and the thickness of the cloth, from rough to very fine, and thin to heavy). Their main use of weapons (long knives, spears and hunting bows) is for hunting, and fishing, which they will do if forced to, by lack of other sources of food; they despise those who hunt just for sport. The elf form, while far more useful in interacting with humanoids, needs more food. This second form is stable even while they sleep, or even if they are knocked unconscious, though on death they typically turn into a (dead) marigold plant. If they want to, when they die they turn into a wizened marigold seed (a dragon seed), and this has caused the unobservant to think that they disappear on death.

Their third form is a dragon seed, about half an inch long, with a woody 'claw' at one end, in which they can rest in a trance-sleep, indefinately, not aging, and not needing sustenance. In this state, normal life detection effects will not sense them; the effect must be used while actually touching the seed. However, they are helpless in this form, and will only awake if planted, when they will grow, as a plant or in elf form, for however long their seed line (see below) takes, before they become conscious as they awaken. If this is a new Marigold, they will almost always grow as a normal plant does, until they produce their bud. They may choose when they enter seed form, whether when they awaken it will be as plant or elf (if there's no room for an elf, it will be as plant, anyhow). Some magic, and those who have influence over or empathy with plants, may be able to alter which form they sprout as; other Marigolds can. Note that nothing stops animals from eating Marigolds in seed form; some might even arrange to have applied a water-proof bitter-tasting coating, or even poison, as a deterrent.

Marigolds can take any of their three forms at will, and these forms are indefinately stable without any concentration. Seed form forces unconsciousness. In plant form they will have a better armour class due to very small size, against any opponent taller than eighteen inches.

They are almost immune to poisons of all sorts, as their body just eats them, and extracts any food value. They do not sleep and are immune to any Sleep effects (including Words), though if they've been under a great deal of stress, they can sleep if they want to. They have no more resistance to Charm than others, though only their elf form is affected by Charm Person. They do not breath unless they wish to (a magical ability), and cannot be drowned, are not effected by dusts and gasses, environmental radiation, or extreme heat or cold, and poisons and vapours do not normally stick to their skin. They have normal senses of smell and taste, though. They are very resistant to actually dying, and don't do so until they've taken more than double their CON (assume -24HP), or their hit point negative, whichever better, and all bleeding stops after a few rounds. They still become unconscious at the same point. What would be critical injuries in others, like limb removal, or large holes in the torso, will not kill them, though deliberate execution attempts, like beheading or heart removal will. They are not quite killed by even normally fatal diseases (of plants, or animals), and are immune to normal illnesses. They heal at 5x human rate, and almost any infirmity will eventually heal (regenerate), though this might take months. Whoever was their original creator, definately didn't want them to die easily.

All Marigolds have some psychic powers, and apart from their mental communication ability (which extends to the written word), they have a range touch total mind link. This is capable of from just surface communication, down to transfering their entire life experience, and so can give them a means of serial immortality. But, the mind link only works between Marigolds, typically to an unawakened seed, of the correct type. These psychic powers mean, that with proper training, any Marigold could become a psionicist (though they would need WIS 9+, and CHAR 12+).

The main problem Marigolds have is that they are annual plants, though quite hardy ones. Experiencing Winter starts their bodies maturing their seed heads, even though the cold doesn't harm them. Once they have a seed head rather than a flower, the Marigold's face moves on to the side, like in a bud, and the seed head can resemble a sort of 'hat'. Once their seed heads are mature, their bodies start to die, and they will not live more than a few weeks. However, their seed heads always contain at least one, viable, dragon seed, which is the same type of Marigold as them, and is suitable to transfer all their experience to. If this seed is planted in the spring (or it could just over-winter), then this will become a new Marigold, with all their life experience. If the Marigold carries out a correct death ritual with the seed (Marigolds can die at will, anyhow), then the new seed will awaken with their spirit, as they enter a new incarnation. Several Marigold seeds could in theory have the life experiences, but only one, the first to awaken, will carry on the spirit. For simplicity, most Marigolds only try and carry on through one seed at a time. In an urban environment, greenhouses are of great interest to Marigolds, in a wilderness, hollows that avoid the worst of Winter, to plant themselves as seeds, until spring. Doing a deal with a dryad, or other intelligent woodland being, would be of interest to them, to protect them while they are in helpless seed form.

A Marigold could try and evade Winter, by taking seed form until spring. But, a normal Marigold active life of more than about two and a half years, three at maximum, is very unlikely, as they just wear out. Longevity effects are about 1/35th effect on Marigolds, if DMs make these proportional to lifespan.

The standard types of Marigold are: Mystic (Magic-user), Mystic (Psionicist), Shifter (Universal Polymorpher; Fighter), Blender (Invisible at will Doppleganger; Fighter), Warrior (Regenerate 1/turn; Ranger), Healer (non-clerical), and Alchemist.

Where a group is encountered, there will probably be one of each type, and if these are have matured to have seed heads, they will have dragon, and normal 'instant' seeds with them as well. Typically the fighter types will be 7th level, the others 5th level, though if a single Marigold or a group of no more than three is encountered they will likely be at least +2 level, singles +4. Any group will have at least one fighter type, and the leaders will almost always be Warriors.

The two varieties of mystic Marigolds have magical powers, similar to a magic user, or mental powers, similar to a psionicist.

If stats are required for Marigolds, then use STR 12, INT 15, WIS 9, CON 12, DEX 15, CHAR 12. Their Alchemists have STR 13, INT 15, WIS 13, CON 13, DEX 16, CHAR 12.

Mature seed head

This is formed as a Marigold dies off, when they 'realise' it is winter. In each seed head there will be:

4+2D10 (viable) seeds

4 dragon seeds
remainder normal ('instant') seeds

(The remainder of the seeds will be non-viable; the Marigold mind link can be used to sense which seeds are viable.)

There is a one-in-six chance seeds are not for same Marigold variety; there will always be at least one dragon seed, and one normal seed, of the same variety of Marigold.

 3- 5 Mystic (Magic-user)
 6- 7 Mystic (Psionicist)
 8- 9 Shifter
10-11 Blender
12-14 Warrior
15-16 Healer
17-18 Alchemist

Note that the Shifters may take an interest in how things work, and may become some sort of artificer. The Alchemists are the only variety which are not adult when they sprout, initially have a bud rather than a flower, and need to mature.

Growing Seeds

Dragon seeds turn into a Marigold, of the appropriate variety, after having been planted. By default this takes an instant, but there are ways of changing a seed line, so that all will take, say ten minutes, over-night, or even normal marigold plant gestation time.

Normal seeds turn into an 'instant' Marigold, of quite short duration ((6+D6)x10mins), though they can return to seeds to extend that duration over a long period of inactivity. When their duration expires, they turn into a dead, wizened, seed. Normal seeds could be planted, and instantly spring into activity, but, just 'sewing' them, into the air, is enough. A normal seed is about a third the size of a dragon seed, with no 'claw'.

Normal seeds have a mind link on activation (maximum range 1000mls) to the mind of the Marigold who's seed head they are from, assuming this mind is preserved in a new Marigold. Otherwise, if this mind doesn't survive, by default to their variety of Marigold, who should be the one who activates them.

There are ways of having another Marigold mind link to an activating seed, such as their original Marigold being in seed form. They will then mind link to their activating Marigold. Once a mind link is to a given Marigold, it is fixed to that Marigold, and can't be changed even if the master dies while in seed form.

If a normal seed is activated, and there isn't someone suitable in range of their mind link, they will get quite upset, and will want to quickly hear good reasons not to return to seed form, or if really upset, suicide.

Marigold Types

The seven standard types of Marigold are: the two Mystic types, Shifter, Blender, Warrior, Healer, and Alchemist.

Mystic (Magic-user): are as standard magic-users, typically of at least 5th level. It is possible that they could be some specialist sort of magic-user, such a illusionist, sorcerer, or summoner, though they will very rarely have anything to do with necromancy, or demons/devils (except, maybe, to know how to get rid of them). These are typically interested in all things magical, and the more senior ones, enchantment of magical items.

Mystic (Psionicist): are as standard psionicists, typically of at least 5th level. Their natural mental powers mean they can be psionicists with lower stats than normal. They tend to have telepathic and psychometabolic powers, though not those injuring the minds or bodies of others, and psychokinetic powers like Molecular Rearrangement, which do not reach far beyond their bodies. They are known to use clairsentience and psychoportation powers, and a very few have metapsionics. These are typically interested in all things mental, how minds work, and the more senior ones in crafting psionic items.

Shifter: has the Universal Polymorph ability, allowing them to take any shape as Polymorph Self, at will, and also shapes as Polymorph to Inanimate (Seeming), and Polymorph to Inanimate (True), all as stable as their elf form. Fighter, typically of at least 7th level, is the usual class that these have. Shifters often have an interest in what makes things work, as they want to understand the functions of the true inanimate forms they take, and may become some sort of (non-magical) artificer; they typically make the weapons and other goods of the Marigolds.

Blender: has the ability to become invisible at will, and all the abilities of a Doppleganger, also at will. Fighter, typically of at least 7th level, is the usual class that these have, though Bard has been known, on occasion. Blenders tend to be endlessly fascinated by people, how they move, how they speak and behave, and they have the doppleganger ESP (actually, all Marigolds have a lesser version of this, just for speech) which allows them to tell what people are anticipating, which can make them excellent performers, though they can get caught up in their roles. Some of these also become Merchants, and are very good judges of almost anyone they trade with.

Warrior: has the ability to Regenerate, at 1HP per turn, no matter how massive the injury they receive; they are about as difficult to kill as trolls, though they have much slower regeneration. Fighter (or Ranger), typically of at least 7th level, is the usual class that these have, and they are almost always the leaders of any Marigold group. They can choose to change form when they go unconscious, or are 'killed' (reduced below negative HP, or -24HP, use better). When they are in seed form, any equipment they were carrying is also slowly healed, after their body is fully healthy.

Healer: has the abilities of a non-clerical Healer, typically of at least 5th level, laying-on hands to heal 4HP/level/day, or converting some of these points into healing spells. These must be Good, and are generally interested in the well-being of anyone encountered. Some rare Healers have alchemical powers of healing, and live indefinately, if they manage to avoid Winter. They also have skills in plant cultivation and Herbalist, and can treat ills of plants, animals, and intelligent beings. The Healers are the one who know, and teach to other Marigolds, the death ritual that allows them to pass on their spirits, allowing serial immortality. A few Healers are also lay priests of woodland, plant, or fertility gods.

Alchemist: has the abilities of an Alchemist, generally up to 9th level. This is not an easy path to follow for a Marigold, as the wisdom required comes hard to them, and needs a great deal of training (maybe over several serial incarnations), so if a group is encountered with an Alchemist in it, they may well be only a bud, rather than a full flower. Alchemists have a great deal of respect among Marigolds, and they can produce the water-proof coatings to help protect their otherwise helpless seeds, over Winter. They can also produce powerful healing potions, made from the non-viable seeds of a Marigold seed head, and these are often a major trade item, for those Marigold groups who trade, or they can be used to do deals with other intelligent woodland dwellers. They have a number of unusual abilities, including: enhanced senses of smell and taste, which improve their potion identification (+10%; and also allows tracking by scent as bloodhound); empathy, which allows their minds to reach out (up to 30') and make a physical and emotional bond, allowing them to study and learn the physical structure of creatures; perfect memory, greatly improving their ability to cram facts into their heads; holding concentrated potions or dusts within special containers within their bodies, up to twenty different containers with up to five doses in each; Acid Resistance, very useful in an alchemist; and, finally, they have a version of 'Polymorph to Inanimate (true)' which lets them take on the shape of a fully functional alchemical workshop (without alchemical materials), either flower-sized, or human-sized. One use for their containers could be to hold concentrated reagents for their workshops, or part-completed concentrated potions. Many also build independent workshops, as it is difficult to use a workshop, if you are being it. If the Alchemist works in flower form, their alchemical workshop can be quite small, though the glasswork will still be as breakable, and it might be tracked by the smells it produces. Miniature workshops like this are not suitable for full-sized human potions, only dusts, pills and concentrates.

(c) Rory O. McLean, 1980 - Mar. 2005
    Permission granted to use for non-profit making purposes