Fauna and Flora of Salsham'ai Lands
The braashak is a plant, and it is an environment, both inextricably linked with the salsham'ai tree-folk. Each individual braashak trunk is joined to others by interlinked branches and root systems, so that combined they are really all part of a single organism upon which lives other plants, animals, and the salsham'ai.
As a braashak trunk matures it sends down aerial roots from its branches. When these reach the ground they grow and lignify, forming a connected second trunk, and this continues as the braashak spreads. The natural habitat of the braashak is the southern end of the land known as Denra-Lyr, and it is constrained only by the coast and by the mountains that surround the human lands of Denra-Lyr, mountains high enough to prevent the growth of the braashak. The salsham'ai transplant cuttings when they establish colonies in other lands but because the braashak is essentially an invasive organism the size of these colonies tend to be restricted by local law, to prevent the braashak from spreading and obliterating local habitat. This is scarcely necessary, however, since the braashak does not grow as prolifically as it does in the salsham'ai homeland. Sages predict that there is some kind of spiritual link between land, people and plant.
Most animals that can be found in temperate forests can be found in the braashak; boars, bears, otters, raccoons, deer, wolves and so forth and there are many varieties adapted to a more arboreal lifestyle. Some local species include:
All names are singular and plural. Typical bird varieties in the braashak include thrushes, larks, wood pigeon and partridge, the latter two hunted for food. Particular to the braashak is the voyhawk, a small bird of prey that is often tamed and used for hunting or sending messages. Bees are plentiful and the salsham’ai encourage and protect them for honey production.
- Matoo are a gorilla-like ape species with black or brown fur and they are the main domesticated animal of the Salsham'ai. They are generally gentle except in extreme circumstances when angered or frightened, and are expert climbers, able to easily navigate even the most difficult of the interior tracks. They are used as both pack animals and for riding.
- Muita are small domesticated monkey-like creatures that are kept as pets by many salsham’ai and as familiars by Lorewardens. Since they tend to make a lot of noise when startled they are often used as guard animals.
- Notah are small tree-climbing rat-like creatures, basically considered vermin although they are edible in a pinch.
- Tollo are canopy-dwelling creatures a bit like a flying squirrel, with a rich red coloured fur. They are hunted as food animals and considered extremely tasty.
- Vorl are dangerous tree climbing predators, looking a bit like a sloth but far more agile with bigger teeth and claws, a ferocious disposition and a tendency to hunt in packs. A vorl's luxurious pelt, ranging from mid-brown to black, is highly desirable, especially if the creature has a white stripe down the tail (these seem to mark the largest and most dangerous alpha males). Luckily the vorl are very people-shy and mainly stick to the uninhabited parts of the forests, but occasionally hunger or sickness brings a vorl pack close to civilisation. Vorl hunting is quite common, especially in Newtown of Thalsa, where the vorl seem a particular problem. Worse than the vorl are the rare Dire Vorl, even larger and even more bad-tempered.
Although the great braashak is the dominant plant in salsham’ai lands, growing amongst it, where they can, are many familiar woodland species such as oak, ash and beech, and pine in the upland areas. The braashak itself is an evergreen and, although every trunk is ultimately connected to every other trunk, each one seems to be subtly different. This effect is only really noticed if one travels widely in salsham’ai lands, where it can be seen that the wide canopied branches of needle-like leaves in the Susar Uplands are the same plant as the broad-leafed heavy branched lowland braashak. If a single braashak trunk is severed from the organism as a whole (an act unthinkable to the salsham’ai) it will continue to live quite happily, but will eventually reconnect to nearby braashak trunks by creepers that lignify into new connecting branches. The canopy of the braashak gives heavy shade to the forest floor, and its many trunks drain the land of nutrients so only the toughest species survive in the undergrowth. Unfortunately, these tend to be the monstrous and dangerous plants, perhaps encouraged by darker shay creatures that also seem prevalent in the lower reaches.
Many species of fruiting bushes, wild vegetables and herbs grow as epiphytes on the branches of the braashak itself, closer to the light. Some of these include:
- Jula. The tough jula bush produces a spherical blue-purple fruit, about the size of a large walnut. These berries can be eaten raw, made into jams or used in cooking. It also makes an excellent wine with a vibrant purple colour.
- Dapil and Ekso. Dapils are a small apple-like fruit, with a mottled red skin and pale pink flesh. They are used to makes a pleasant rosé wine as well as for eating. A plant called ekso has similar fruit but it is a much brighter shade of red. It is poisonous to eat but also has some healing properties.
- Tashan is a very prickly creeper which has a mild toxin in its needles which produces a distracting rash, and in the secondary stages leads to muscle cramping. Tashan sap is able to kill very small children and sickly individuals but healthy adults are usually safe from its effects. The tashan toxin can, however, be distilled to make a debilitating contact poison.
- Sugar-root is more common in the Susar cloud forests. It is a branch-growing succulent with aerial roots that draw moisture from the atmosphere. These roots form into tubers that look a bit like long thin carrots and have a very sweet taste. Matoo love sugar root raw, but salsham'ai and humans eat it once it has been cooked.
- Shoka. Shoka beans are a major commodity of salsham’ai lands, found only in the braashak. Like many other braashak-growing species they require some particular nutrient found in braashak sap. Shoka is a vine with delicate white flowers that bloom in spring and give off a pleasant scent. Each flower head then develops into a bean pod. Many salsham’ai grow them in containers on their balconies. Shoka beans are made into a popular hot beverage, somewhat like coffee with chocolate overtones.
- Cloud Flax. Grown mainly in the Susar uplands, cloud-flax is an epiphyte that produces trails of fluffy seed-casing in autumn. These hang beneath the braashak branches and catch the wind, distributing seeds, but the salsham’ai harvest it, spin it and use the thread to weave their garments.
There are a wide variety of mushrooms, in all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes and colours, especially on the lower trunks of the braashak. A few of them are:
- Choi: a bright yellow edible fungus that grows into long dangling fingers like very fat spaghetti.
- Burm: a pale orange edible fungus that grows in big lumpy masses.
- Beto: a bluish grey edible fungus that grows in spheres about 2 inches across.
- Zwitan: grows as thick yellow stalks topped with bright red spherical caps. It is highly poisonous to humanoids, but matoo are immune and love to eat it.
Using the braashak
The braashak forms a unique backdrop to adventures involving salsham'ai, and many of the creatures of the braashak can be found elsewhere on Conclave. Matoo and vorl have dedicated pages for their game statistics. For muita use monkey, for notah and tolla use rat (but replace swim speed with a fly speed of 30 ft. (poor) for tolla) and for voyhawk use hawk statistics (optionally increase the racial bonus to Spot by another +2).
Muita and voyhawks are sometimes taken as familiars. Voyhawks grant their masters a +3 bonus to Spot whereas muita grant a +3 bonus to Sleight of Hand.
Some of the plants of the braashak have game statistics for their poisonous qualities:
Raw Ekso. Ingested poison DC 10, Initial Damage: become Sickened, Secondary Damage: become Nauseated, Price: free, can be found in wild. To experience the full effect of the poison one must eat an entire ekso fruit, and to get past the first unpleasant-tasting bite would take a great effort of will.
Ekso Cordial 20 gp per vial (negligible weight). Craft (alchemy) DC 12 to brew from raw ekso. Ekso cordial grants a +5 alchemical bonus to saving throws vs. Filth Fever for one day after consumption.
Tashan Sap (natural). Contact poison DC 5, Initial Damage: become Sickened, Secondary Damage: 1d4 Dex, Price: free, can be found in the wild.
Tashan Distillate. Contact poison DC 15, Initial Damage: 1d4 Dex, Secondary Damage: Paralysis, Price 200 gp.
Zwitan Exudate (natural). Ingested Poison DC 18, Initial Damage: 1d4 Wis, Secondary Damage: 3d6 Con, Price 300 gp, but can be found in wild. Note that zwitan in its natural form has a highly distinctive and unpleasant odour and taste. It is very unlikely that a person would willingly eat anything prepared with untreated zwitan, thus limiting its use as a poison.
Zwitan Extract. Ingested Poison DC 16, Initial Damage 1d4 Wis, Secondary Damage 1d6 Wis + 2d6 Con, Price 1000 gp. Zwitan extract is an alchemically purified version of the zwitan toxin. It is slightly less deadly, but also loses most of the distinctive odour and taste.
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