An unexpected dip back into Vestitas, this time dealing with a natural hazard that lurks deep within the jungle.
Summary: The hex is home to a thriving population of plants that produce toxic spores whenever their leaves are disturbed.
Discovery: When the players enter the hex, they must each individually make a Challenging(+0) Awareness check and a Difficult(-10) Scholastic Lore (Beasts) check. If anyone makes both, they spot and identify the toxic plant before entering it. If nobody succeeds on both checks, the characters blunder into one and trigger it. It is not enough if one character succeeds on one check and a different character succeeds on the other. Someone who sees the plant without knowing what it is has no idea he should be telling someone who knows what the plant is but hasn’t seen it about the new plant. The exception being if the players are specifically examining all unfamiliar plants for signs of danger, which will certainly slow their travels down a lot, but will allow anyone who succeeds on the Awareness check to consult the other party members to see if anyone succeeded on the Scholastic Lore (Beasts) check.
Exploration: The plants grow vines which wrap themselves all around trees, growing large, heavy pods all around them. If any of the vines or the leaves that grow from them are disturbed, a toxic cloud of spores is emitted. The spores act as choke gas, except they take only 1d5 rounds to settle onto the ground (and stop being a hazard for anyone who isn’t kissing the dirt), but they inflict their 1d10 Toughness damage on two or more degrees of failure on the Toughness check, rather than four.
Confrontation: The spore plants grow in large patches throughout the jungle. Avoiding them means a significant detour. The party guide must make a Difficult(-10) Navigate (Surface) check, and if the check fails, the party requires one extra speed to leave the hex. The party can also try to thread their way through, in which case they must each make three Ordinary(+10) Awareness checks to avoid stumbling into the pods again. Unless the party specifically spreads themselves out to avoid all being caught when one disturbs a vine, the three meter radius of the pod’s spore cloud is enough to catch most parties, given that people naturally walk about one meter apart from one another.
Reward: The pod toxin can be harvested for the construction of toxic choke grenades. Identifying the toxin’s location requires a Hard(-20) Scholastic Lore (Beasts) check, and extracting the toxin requires either a medi-kit or an excruciation kit as well as a successful Difficult(-10) Medicae check (any bonuses from medi-kits apply as usual). Failing the Medicae check will cause the pod to release its toxic spores. If the Scholastic Lore (Beasts) check has exactly one degree of failure, then the character who made the check thinks they know how to extract the toxin, but doesn’t, and the Medicae check causes the pod to release toxic spores unless it gets at least three degrees of success, in which case the deft hands of the chirurgeon have identified the toxin’s true location despite misremembering or being misinformed on the subject. Once the toxin has been extracted, a character can use Tech Use or Trade (Armourer) to create the grenades and load them up with four degrees of success on an extended crafting test.
Construction of the grenade can also be deferred to local armourers in any village or town that can make choke grenades in the first place. Because the characters are supplying the toxic gas, the cost of the grenade is reduced to Common, however they can still only requisition this service in a town that can be levied for a Scarce grenade (like a choke grenade). They do not have to actually levy the town, the levy system is just how a town’s production capabilities are tracked.
Characters can also have fun leading enemies into toxic groves if they ever find themselves pursued through the jungle.
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