Wednesday, October 10, 2018

GFA18 - Alternate Plantients for MCC

My fifth 2018 Gongfarmer's Almanac article (and this is the last one I'm numbering, I swear) is a list of alternate plantient appearances for Mutant Crawl Classics. Like my alternate manimals, this is a follow-up to my earlier thoughts about MCC's plantients and to my post about Future Evolution. You may notice that common farm and yard plants get top billing here. For some of the plant types, I listed very common types as suggestions. For others, there were either too many options (I don't want to list every kind of flower I can think of, what could possibly be the point of that?) or too few (does anyone really have multiple strong images of ferns in their head, and need a table to help them decide which one to imagine now?) I think the player should be allowed the leeway to describe their plantient looking the way they want - which could include, for example, choosing to look like a pine cone instead of a pine tree if they rolled a 14. As with my other posts in this series, Keith Garrett made it better with editing, and Karim made it better with art.
Art by Karim
Table: Plantient Body Type
Roll 1d6: (1) Human body-plan with plantlike features; (2-4) Human-plant hybrid or anthropomorphic plant; (5-6) Sentient plant with roughly human-sized body, opposable thumbs, fine manual dexterity, and terrestrial locomotion.
Table: Plantient Subtype (roll 1d24)
1     Cereal grain - Roll 1d4: (1) rice; (2) wheat; (3) corn; (4) oats.
2     Leafy vegetable - Roll 1d3: (1) celery; (2) lettuce; (3) greens.
3     Underground - Roll 1d3: (1) bulb such as garlic/onion; (2) root such as potato/carrot; (3) rhizome such as ginger/lotus.
4     Vines - Roll 1d6: (1) berry/grape; (2) melon; (3) pea/bean; (4) tomato/pepper; (5) squash/gourd; (6) flowering/leaf.
5     Herb - Roll 1d4: (1) basil; (2) mint; (3) rosemary; (4) lavender.
6-7   Flower
8     Grass
9     Cluster of shoots - Roll 1d5: (1) asparagus; (2) sansevieria; (3) reed; (4) bamboo; (5) birch.
10     Bush/shrub
11     Fruit tree
12     Tropical - Roll 1d4: (1) palm; (2) coconut; (3) pineapple; (4) banana.
13     Leafy deciduous tree - Roll 1d4: (1) permanent spring flowers; (2) permanent summer green; (3) permanent autumn colors; (4) foliage progresses each time plantient gains level.
14    Pine conifer
15    Fern
16    Carnivorous plant - Roll 1d2: (1) flytrap; (2) pitcher plant.
17     Cactus or succulent
18     Seaweed, sponge, or coral
19     Fungus - Roll 1d3: (1) mushroom; (2) toadstool; (3) morel.
20     Moss, wort, lichen, or mold
21     Multiple mutations - Roll 1d20 once on this table and 1d20 once on the Mutant Appearance table.
22     Multiple mutations - Roll 1d20 once on this table and 1d20 once on the Manimal Subtype table (the character is still considered a plantient).
23     Multiple mutations - Roll 1d20 twice on this table.
24     Multiple mutations - Roll 1d20 twice on this table and 1d24 once on the Mutant Appearance table.


  1. To be honest, I am less impressed with this table than the previous two. There are some amazing groups of plants that you did not include, such as cryptophytes (such as stone plants), epiphytes (such as orchids or mistletoe), and the weird stuff like the two kinds of tree ferns, palms that grow as vines or strangler figs.

    On the other hand, I very much appreciate that you do have plant/animal hybrids. I think they are an underutilized form of mutation in Metamorphosis Alpha and its scions. Go shrimp/dandelions!

    1. I think that's a fair critique, but in my defense, remember that one of my goals is to write something that people can use without having to go look up the definition (or even just a photo) of their plan in order to imagine it.

      I think that we all just know many fewer different kinds of plants than we do animals - and the kinds we do know are many, MANY varieties of the same basic type. I could list every flower I could think of, but would that make the table better? If listed out every type of tree, could anyone imagine the difference between and oak and a maple without needing to check a leaf identification guide first? What I ultimately decided is that I could write down a lot of plant names for the sake of having something comparable to the manimals, but that it would only create the appearance of variety without the ability for anyone to really USE the finer grained distinctions.

      You've touched on something I went back and forth with myself about, and I'm still not positive I chose right. But the cost of including cycads and gnetophytes is that no one knows what they look like. Even among my beloved mosses, who can imagine the difference between moss, club moss, liverwort, hornwort, and lichen? I can envision each of them in my head, but as characters, they basically all look the same. The same with orchids - being an epiphyte is a lifestyle, and stripped of that, it's just another flower.

      But I'm glad you liked the multiple mutation possibilities, and I appreciate you pushing me to revisit the decisions I made in writing the list and paring it down. If I seem defensive its because I'm revisiting the conversation I had with myself about it, in which the side I'm now defending was the side that one. I personally hope for lots of multiple-mutants, especially dandelion-shrimp people!

    2. I don't see lichens as similar to the other groups you mentioned, but that is because most of the species around here are crustose rather than the other forms. But I also very much see your point.

      I respectively disagree about the epiphytes- their lifestyle provides them a different way of looking upon the world and interacting with it, usually from above.

      And I hope that someone out there will have a moot between the shrimp/dandelion people and the dandelion/shrimp people. Some say they look the same, but never in the presence of either.