Practical Magic is an occasional series highlighting magic items and spells that concentrate more on adding flavor to the game than on being powerful. They make nice additions to the loot pile without breaking the game. Note: The two magic items described in this article are designated as Open Game Content. This designation applies to all of the text except for that in the shaded box titled “Corpse Seeds & the Einolar,” and does not apply to any accompanying images. (See here for license.)
Corpse Seeds (uncommon, no attunement required)
Corpse seeds are typically found in a small pack of a half dozen or so seeds. Each seed is about the size of a peach pit, but is pale, beige, smooth and hard. Tiny Elvish runes are carved into the seed, bearing invocations of growth and fecundity.
When a corpse seed is placed in a grave with a relatively fresh corpse (dead for no more than a week) and covered with dirt, the seed activates and begins to grow into a tree with great speed. Within an hour a sprout appears with a few small budding leaves. After a day, a small sapling has formed. By the second day, a young tree the height of a person has grown from the grave. By the seventh day, a full grown tree stands where the corpse and seed were buried.
The body is entirely consumed by the process of generating the tree and is completely unrecoverable a week after planting.
The type of tree that forms is dependent upon the corpse that the seed was buried with, and tends to be a symbolic representation of that individual’s character and personality. A strong a hale warrior might give rise to a mighty oak. A caring priest might turn into a nourishing fruit tree. A dexterous rogue might turn into a willow. The type of tree will generally be one that can survive in the region in which it was planted, but the choice is up to the game master.
Corpse Seeds & the Einolar –Wallace Cleaves
In my own setting, the Vault, corpse seeds are the product of Einolar plantsmith magic. The Einolar use corpse seeds on the bodies of their fallen enemies to replenish the forests they so revere, and by doing so prevent the use of those corpses for necromantic magic. The use of a corpse seed also prevents the raising of one buried with a seed by anything but the most puissant magic.
The Einolar, some tribes of which actively practice cannibalism, have no qualms about eating fruit from a corpse-seed tree or harvesting such trees for wood or materials if needed. Some other cultures trade for corpse seeds, seeing them as a fine way to honor a fallen loved one, while other cultures find the use of the seeds blasphemous as it desecrates the corpse. Adventurers sometimes find them useful as a way to make certain that a particularly resourceful enemy will stay dead.
Habaster’s Handy Horse Hobble (rare, no attunement required)
The wizard Habaster grew tired of losing horses tied up outside of dungeons, which were invariably eaten by wandering monsters before his party could finish looting whatever crypt or cache they were currently exploring. He created the now often imitated Handy Horse Hobble to rectify this problem. The hobbles are also popular with cavaliers who have to take mounts on ships or across bad terrain which might harm a large mount.
This set of fine leather horse hobbles fit around the front legs of a horse and prevent it from wandering too far while grazing. Attaching the hobbles to a horse unaccustomed to them requires an Animal Handling check at DC 10. Horses accustomed to hobbling generally just allow themselves to be fitted with the device.
Sewn into the leather strap that connects the two cinched straps which attach to the horse’s legs are golden runes that spell out the command phrase “Hobble and Halt Till Called to Serve.” When these words are spoken out loud, any horse wearing the hobble is transformed over 3 seconds into a small statue about four inches in height (the exact size of the figurine varies slightly in accordance with the size of the original horse). The small statue weighs about 1 pound. The hobble itself also shrinks down and remains on the horse. Removing the tiny leather hobble on the statue’s front legs reverses the enchantment and, over about 3 seconds, returns the horse and the hobble to their normal size and form.
The hobble can be used to transform a horse into a statue only once each day, recharging at dawn, and can maintain the horse in its statue form for up to a week. If the hobble has not been removed and the transformation not reversed before the end of the week, the horse returns to its normal size and shape at dawn of the seventh day following its initial transformation. At that point, the hobble falls off and returns to its original form as well. The hobble cannot be used on any creature except a horse, and will not transform any other creature or person. †