Thursday, September 10, 2009

Flora and Fauna: Crumblebark Tree

These deciduous trees are recognizable by their ashy grey bark and star-shaped leaves. Crumblebark trees reach heights of 100’ and a trunk circumference of 30’ when fully grown. They thrive in climates with cool, wet winters and warm summers, requiring abundant water for their dense root systems, and are commonly found in river valleys, foothill woodlands, and in coastal areas.

The tree gets its name from the layers of loosely attached bark that covers its exterior. Unlike most trees, crumblebarks can shed its bark in large quantities without harming the tree, and applying even light pressure to the tree’s surface causes its exterior to crumble and fall away. This makes the tree extremely difficult to climb without rope or climbing spikes. Any character attempting to climb a crumblebark tree has a 4 in 6 chance of failing (and falling); Thieves climb at half their normal Climb Walls percentage.

Predators, both natural and monstrous, utilize this quirk of the crumblebark tree when hunting prey. They attack from ambush in crumblebark groves and, when prey attempts to flee to safety by climbing a nearby tree, the predator corners and devours them as their prey claws frantically at the disintegrating bark. The crumblebark tree unwittingly benefits from this arrangement, as the bones and blood of animals killed and eaten at its base provide rich fertilizer for the tree. Adventurers are warned to be wary when passing through crumblebark groves where the trees appear exceptionally vibrant and healthy – danger lies in wait.

Dry crumblebark bark makes excellent tinder and using it to start a fire will result in success on even the wettest of days. Powdered crumblebark is a common ingredient used by herbalists and wise women in poultices for treating sunburn, acne, eczema, and other skin ailments.

4 comments:

Peter said...

I like it. Non-monster (or monster-attracting) environmental hazards like this are excellent for populating and giving colour to things like travelling time, which can otherwise easily become flavourless wallpaper.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back from your long deserved sabbatical magister. As per your final instructions I kept my nose in my books and my hands out of your reagents.

Chris said...

Ah, the infamous scrofulous willow... :)

Ripper X said...

This is awesome stuff here, Amityville. I agree with Peter, I simply love fantasy color like this. You've made me very happy. Thank you.