When game designers are creating a fantasy world, they spend a lot of time on maps, geography, magic, races, and gods. What don’t generally get covered are the plants and animals of their new world. Does an abundance of magic affect how plants grow? Would some animals and plants use magic as a resource themselves? These are questions I want to try and answer in this series.
It’s everywhere, and has a huge variety between species, so why shouldn’t it in a fantasy world? Changing grass to fit a fantasy theme is the same as almost anything else: choose one of its traits and either flip it on its head or exaggerate the quality. Let’s do an example.
Sword grass is a type of real world grass that has especially sharp edges that can even cut human skin, so we will take that trait and heighten it. Our grass is incredibly sharp, able to cut even tanned leather. For this reason, many people avoid the meadows that it grows in, and some even use it for creating weapons and defenses.
But how did it get so sharp? Well, in this world we are creating, Mana has a mutative quality that can change the way biological systems function. This grass commonly grows in soil with a high iron content. It leeches it from the soil and it collects on the edges of its leaves forming a sharp blade. The presence of sword grass could be a big indicator of a large iron ore deposit nearby.
As you can see, simply taking the time to change a real world plant into a fantasy plant is pretty quick and easy, but it also helps you build the rest of the world. If everything you create interacts in different ways, much like real world habitats, the game seems more alive. I’ll leave you with a few more grass examples. Feel free to use them in your own world.
Yes, Bamboo is a type of grass. Look it up.
Whistling bamboo has a series of holes along its length that whistle when the wind hits it just right. It is said to sound like an entire orchestra of drunk musicians playing woodwinds. Many cultures cultivate the grass to harvest it for use in musical instruments.
Much like regular moss, orange moss grows on rocks, trees, and anything else that stays wet and still long enough to grow it. When disturbed, such as being stepped on, its color fades to almost white for up to a day. This could be useful for tracking purposes, or incorporated into existing defenses.
If creeping vines and the common cactus had a baby, it’d be the crawling cactus. This pointy plant spreads out along the ground and up cliffs to collect dew water and sunlight. Many an unfortunate adventurer has fallen down a hill only to land on top of a crawling cactus. It is not a pleasant sight.