The land was once completely green, from one edge of the world to the other. To the plants who lived there it was paradise, from the simplest blade of grass to the smartest walking tree. Water and soil were plentiful, and everyone coexisted peacefully—shrubs, trees, cacti, everyone.
Almost a year ago, something changed. Temperatures started to rise at the far edges of the world. Water dried, and grasslands gradually devolved into desert. None of the plants knew why it was happening, but they did know one thing: the habitable world was shrinking.
Now this recursion contains a single patch of temperate land, a last oasis surrounded by vast deserts. The animate plant inhabitants—who call themselves the Uprooted—vie with each other over the increasingly small supply of water and fertile soil.
Uprooted Racial Options
Recursors visiting the Last Oasis can choose to become one of the Uprooted, the sentient plant-based beings who live here. The Uprooted are the product of fictional leakage, originating from stories featuring intelligent, animate, talking plants. As such, the Uprooted have a few humanoid features incorporated into their vegetable bodies, including faces, branchy arms, and legs formed from roots. In other words, they can walk and talk, and might be offended if a human were to seem surprised at these facts.
Several species of Uprooted live here, though they all possess certain common features. The Uprooted don’t need to eat, but do need water and sunlight, and they must spend about a third of each day with their roots planted in fertile soil. (Days and nights in the Last Oasis are similar to Earth’s.) Going without any of these requirements for too long (say, a few days, or a shorter time in the desert) results in wilting (represented by an impaired condition).
If one of the Uprooted translates to another recursion, it can choose to take the form of plant life native to the destination recursion in lieu of choosing a new focus. The GM can decide how open the choice of plants may be; an Uprooted recursor might be allowed to become any type of plant in the recursion, or it might be limited to taking the form of a plant that is already in the vicinity. In the latter case, a new arrival might have to settle for becoming a potted plant if it wants to blend in at the office building.
The GM may also allow a translating Uprooted to take the shape of a human that is composed of vegetable matter. An example of this is described below in Invasion of the Pod People.
The following are a few of the plentiful Uprooted species in the Last Oasis. Note that all of them have both masculine and feminine varieties (again, due to their fictional leakage origins).
Sentries are mighty trees, and are perhaps the largest sentient plants in the Last Oasis, ranging from 10 to 20 feet tall. They speak slowly, but carry a big stick. Sentries have a natural +1 to Armor due to their tough bark, and their great strength means that the difficulty of actions involving lifting and smashing things is reduced by one step. Because of their bulk, the difficulty of all movement-related tasks is one step higher for Sentries. The most powerful Sentries duplicate some or all of the abilities included in the Abides in Hardwood focus. Sentries use their imposing size and strength to defend the plants of the oasis, which has become more difficult lately because what the plants increasingly need protection from is each other.
Water Lilies (often called simply “lilies”) are humanoid flower-covered vegetable vixens whose pheromones can sway the minds of living creatures (including both plants and people). They normally live in ponds and lakes, but as the world withers many have taken to traveling with their own supplies of water. Because they are adapted to an aquatic habitat, lilies wilt faster than most of the Uprooted; they suffer an impaired condition after half a day without water. Lilies grow to the size of human children or small adults. Due to their always-active pheromones, the difficulty of all pleasant social interactions is reduced by one step for lilies. Most lilies like to get things done by having someone else do it for them.
Cacti are stocky man-sized cactus plants. Being resistant to heat and dehydration, cacti are adept at enduring the desert lands; they only need water every two weeks, even in the desert, and the difficulty of survival-related tasks is reduced by one step for them. Cacti gain +1 damage to unarmed attacks thanks to their distinctive full-body covering of spines. The other Uprooted increasingly rely on the cacti to explore the expanding deserts, which they do to rescue plants that have been cut off from the oasis, seek out water sources, and try to find clues as to why the green-lands are shrinking. Some cacti enjoy the resulting status, others just like being useful, and a few resent the fact that the other Uprooted expect them to be happy with less water, just because they don’t need as much to survive.
Ivies are nebulous masses of vines and leaves. Many are fond of taking humanoid shape, but an equal number choose strictly utilitarian forms, like that of a wheel when traveling or a leafy container to catch water. Ivies are good at climbing and grappling, and have the difficulty of those tasks reduced by one step. Some varieties can poison a touched target at will, dealing 4 points of Speed damage on a successful attack. Many ivies seem disinterested in the fact that their world is becoming uninhabitable, preferring to spend their time finding new heights to climb, new shapes to mimic, and new pranks to pull.
Inspired by the venus flytrap, Snappers mount a large bulbous head on top of four relatively small root-legs. They tend to be the least intelligent of the Uprooted, or at least the most likely to favor trying to eat things over talking about things. They are practiced at eating, which for a snapper means they can inflict a bite attack that deals damage as a medium weapon. The difficulty of all tasks related to grappling is decreased by one step for a snapper; a successful grapple means the snapper has swallowed its target (size permitting). A swallowed target takes 2 points of damage from stomach acid each round, but a snapper normally cannot walk or take other actions while trying to eat a target. Snappers gain enough moisture and nutrients from a consumed organic target to equal a week’s worth of water and soil; this gives them a better ability to travel in the desert than any of the Uprooted other than the cacti, were they motivated to do so. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous plants have learned to deny a snapper food for long enough to make it ravenous, then release it toward a group of rival Uprooted and steal their water while they try to survive the attack.
The area that still supports plant life in this recursion is simply called “Oasis” by the inhabitants. Oasis is roughly disc-shaped and spans about 25 miles (40 km) in diameter; it is also shrinking by a few meters every day. The land here is mostly flat with a few areas of rolling hills. The center of Oasis is home to a forest of the tallest trees. A few rivers and streams crisscross the land, feeding a dozen or so lakes and ponds. No water features larger than a lake remain.
The Shrinking Swamp is the site of the largest remaining lake in the Oasis. As its name suggests, the area was a swamp until recently. Now it is merely a small lake surrounded by a graveyard of stunted, dessicated trees. Many of the Uprooted still live here, out of necessity, but none are happy about their surroundings.
The Expanding Desert
The Expanding Desert is the arid wasteland that surrounds Oasis in every direction. In addition to countless rolling sand dunes, the desert contains the dried-up remnants of green-lands that were home to plant life as recently as a few months ago. Some desert-exploring plants swear that in addition to the desert expanding its reach, it is also growing new features. An ivy refugee recently carried to Oasis by a cactus rescue team claims that the village she lived in is gone now, replaced at some point by a small rocky plateu that wasn’t there before.
Several groups of cacti are searching for what they call the “heart of the desert.” Some believe that this is where they’ll find the cause of the desert’s expansion. As evidence, supporters of this theory point out that they have found strange artifacts in the desert, and that they seem more common in the hottest areas—believed to be closest to the desert’s heart.
Abides in Hardwood
In the Last Oasis, the focus Abides in Stone manifests instead as a covering of hard wood. This modified focus has a few other changes as well:
- Replace the word “golem” with “tree,” and “stone” with “wood.”
- Your Tier 1 ability, Tree Body, gives you the shape of a tree. You do still require water and soil like the Uprooted.
- Your Tier 3 Golem Stomp ability is called Branch Whomp.
Regenerates Plant Tissue
Similarly, the focus Regenerates Tissue has a Last Oasis variant called Regenerates Plant Tissue. This represents a natural accelerated healing ability possessed by some of the Uprooted, rather than bioengineering. Regardless of what you look like in the Last Oasis, when equipped with this focus you are made of foliage instead of flesh. Your Tier 6 Rhizome Seed ability is called Uprooted Seed.
Mirages in the Oasis
Invasion of the Pod People: A group of Uprooted have discovered a translation gate that leads to Earth. When visiting Earth via this gate, the Uprooted retain their animate vegetable nature but otherwise appear to be humans (albeit slightly green-tinted ones). The visitors’ goal could be a nefarious one, or they could have a more innocent purpose. In the former case, they may have abandoned the Last Oasis to try and infiltrate human society and remake the world in their image. The PCs could learn about this plan after they discover that key people have gone missing or have been replaced by duplicates (perhaps facilitated by an artifact the Uprooted visitors found in the desert). For a story of a different tone, it could instead turn out that the Uprooted are simply trying to redirect a local river or stream into the gate in the hope that the water will bring life back to the dried-up land around the gate on the Last Oasis side. If the Uprooted do manage to change the course of a waterway (something else an artifact could help with), this could lead to a big surprise for any swimming humans who get poured into the gate.
The Heart of the Desert: The desert hides many mysteries, not least of which is the reason why the arid sands are encroaching so relentlessly upon the only habitable plot of land. A tough old sentry grows tired of playing a defensive game and asks the PCs to help him take the battle to the enemy—whoever, or whatever, it is. If they manage to survive the increasingly deadly heat and groups of Uprooted bandits desperate for water, what do the party members find at the heart of the desert? They might encounter an alien entity or force hostile to plant life, or even life in general, has manifested directly from the Strange. Or perhaps a powerful artifact is causing the effect—intentionally or not—from the crater where it landed, and is accompanied by heat-producing machines that roam the sands searching for something. Or the problem may be another recursion intruding into this one, perhaps a desert world also inspired by fictional leakage.