Plants are one of the most basic forms of life. As primary producers of energy on a planet, plants convert sunlight into stored energy for animals and higher life forms to consume. Phelos (pronounced “fellows”) are a symbiote race of a plant-like nature aspect woven and fused into an animal or humanoid body with high magic. Because of their dual nature, Phelos are natural wardens of the land and forests.
In the beginning, Argilkin created as many different varieties of Phelos as there are trees in all of the worlds, each with unique abilities. The most prolific and well-known are the two largest Phelo sub-races: Treekin and Lichens. Phelos are as diverse in their appearance as all the trees in a forest, but they all act to grow and protect the sacred forests of their world.
Phelos, if separated from their nature aspect, would look like large, leathery animals or humans. They usually have two arms and legs just as any other humanoid race. It is the Phelos’ nature aspect that makes them into something completely unique and unlike most races. Because Phelos are essentially two organisms living in the same space, they have an innate understanding of the interconnectedness of the world and its systems. Its plant half feeds the animal half, and the animal half can move to feed and protect the plant half. In addition, over time, the Phelos’ halves truly merge and become one being. When this happens, the Phelo has reached maturity and can reproduce through the means associated with its nature aspect.
Each Phelo has a nature aspect; a part of nature permanently interwoven into the (usually) animal biology of the Phelo. It is the nature aspect of the Phelo that determines its sub-race.
Treekin: As their name suggests, Treekin-Phelos are usually bound to tree species of some kind. This makes them taller and gives them the ability to photosynthesize and grow bark skin. The reason Treekin are so wide-spread is because they are effectively a vehicle for the tree they have been bound to. It is believed that trees exist in all parts of the world because of the Treekin planting them there.
Treekin have bark that thickens as they age, they generally have twigs, leaves, and grass for hair, emerald green eyes, and an occasional random branches out their shoulders, arms, legs, or back. Their bark acts as an armor that can actually protect them from both magic and melee damage. They are not able to wear normal armor, and generally choose not to wield any weapons.
Treekin usually carry pouches of their tree’s seeds so they can spread them as they travel. These seeds will grow into trees, not Phelos. Treekin-Phelos reproduce by budding when they have matured and reach “Ancient Sentinel” status (explained in more detail below).
Lichens: Lichens receive their name because they are bound to and covered in Lichens. They are usually short and stout (almost dwarf-like), and are a mobile embodiment of the Lichens’ spirit. Lichen-Phelos generally relate more to the death and decay portion of the circle of life, and are more likely to cause degenerative damage in combat than healing and regeneration.
Lichens tend to be even more reclusive than Treekin because they appear almost as human lepers, and are shunned except by the more “evil” races. They do not form majestic Ancient Sentinels when they age, instead they spread as blight along the ground forming an “Ancient Blight”, and only then can they reproduce through budding. Because of their nature, the Lichen-Phelos never truly die and maintain their ability to cast silent and still spells at trespassers indefinitely.
Also known as “tree folk” in outside circles, Phelos generally live solitary or clan-based lives guarding their territories from outside threats. Few outsiders oppose the Will of “forbidden forests” and fewer still return to tell about it. It is rumored that ancient Phelos turn trespassers into forest animals with a quick snap of their branches, or even into Phelos.
Although Phelos are quite prolific, they are not well-known because they usually keep to the forests. They are often described more in the form of fairy-tales and legends than actual experience by city-dwellers. Those who live near wooded areas often see Phelos on a regular basis, but they are still intrigued every time they actually encounter one face-to-face.
Phelos are territorial and although some form small tribes, they rarely come together for any reason. They can reproduce both sexually via pollination (as trees) and asexually by budding (as mature, Ancient Phelos). There are male and females of the species, but there is no functional difference. Visible differences are superficial because a female’s breasts are either from an original host or as a symbolic representation of the great mother.
Most Phelos keep to themselves or their small clans, content with protecting their territories, but some feel the call to expand their territory, spread their seed, or even go exploring. There is no formal leadership or codes of conduct—each Phelo simply acts in the best interest of the forest and its clan.
Ancient Sentinels – Treekin
Treekin generally focus on mastering Primal or Elemental domains because as they age their bark hardens and they become more tree-like. This process, known among scholars as the “Sentinel’s Path,” restricts movement until they are so slow the Phelo chooses to root itself to the ground. Once rooted, a Phelo undergoes a primal transformation to become the most immense Ancient Sentinel of the forest; usually stretching far above the canopy to watch over their territories.
Ancient Sentinels spread a toxin (much like that of black walnut) at their feet that extends approximately 5 to 150 feet from the Sentinel in all directions. The toxin allows only grass to grow, although the area is filled with an aura of regeneration (sought after by many); but the Sentinel still decides whether the trespasser is worthy of this gift. These grassy clearings surrounding an immense guardian are a notice to trespassers that an ancient and reverent power stands before them.
Ancient Sentinels begin “budding” immediately, creating as many as a dozen Phelos every decade or so. The new Phelos retain the knowledge of the parent, but they are new souls needing to unlock previously known skills and magics.
Ancient Blight – Lichen
Lichen-Phelos generally focus on mastering Primal or Elemental domains because when a Lichen “dies” it undergoes a primal transformation to become an immense Ancient Blight of the forest; spreading approximately 5 to 150 feet from the Phelo’s resting place in all directions. The blight allows only lichens to grow, and the area is filled with an aura of degeneration (feared by many); and can be suppressed or focused by the will of the Blight. The blight (and the degeneration aura) takes effect immediately at the time of the Phelo’s death.
Because the Phelo and the lichens are actually one organism, the Phelo lives on in every lichen in the blight. These lichen-covered clearings are a deadly warning to trespassers that an ancient and formidable power is upon them.
Ancient Blights begin “budding” immediately, a dozen or so Phelos are born every decade. The new Phelos retain the knowledge of the parent, but they are also new souls needing to unlock previously known skills and magics.