Livewood

From House of Hozz

Livewood is wood enchanted to respond to (and change shape for) anyone who holds or touches it. It is a common material found in Faierie.

Properties

Shape Shifting

Livewood is limited in the shapes it can take, generally changing only aspect ratio, or sending out and retracting plantlike "shoots". For instance, a staff (see below) can change its length becoming short and stout, or long and thin. This change can be differential, with one end thin and the other end thick. It can also change its pliability, becoming rigid and hard or springy and whiplike. It can also bend to a certain degree, acting in a snakelike manner. Livewood will not form complex shapes (like sawtooth edges, clasps, or jaws) unless carved into those shapes beforehand. The strength of the enchantment determines the degree and strength with which the Livewood responds to its wielder.

The wielder can cause Livewood to send out "shoots" which behave like a very rapid branching growth. A piece of livewood can thus create branches, roots, vines, leaves, fruit, or any other growth native to the kind of plant from which it was carved. This action consumes some of the enchantment, but can be very useful in forming and wielding livewood. The shoots can also be retracted, or un-grown, at the owner's will, which returns a portion of the enchantment energy to the Livewood.

Livewood is sustained by magical energy, which slowly degrades over time. It is also susceptible to drying out and becoming unresponsive. Livewood shoots with leaves will rejuvenate the enchantment, and livewood roots can draw up water to keep the enchantment healthy. Over long periods of time, the material will grow like a normal plant, increasing the bulk of the material under the enchantment.

When broken, cut, or shattered, all fragments retain their magical properties. Splicing several pieces of livewood together is also possible, but difficult.

Wielding Livewood

Anyone touching the Livewood may exert control over it. Over time, an individual piece of Livewood can become more attuned to a particular wielder, but it is never 100% loyal. Willpower, concentration, and whatever magical juju is going on are all a factor.

An item made of livewood left unattended in the presence of light will (after a random period of time) "burst" into plant form, expending the enchantment to send foliage shoots toward the light and rooting shoots away from the light. Unattended Livewood must be stored in a light-proof container to prevent this loss of the enchantment. This expenditure can also be activated on command by the wielder as a kind of self-destruct or "solidification" of the form of the wood.

Livewood Trees

Since Livewood can be sprouted on command, an easy way to create more Livewood is to simply grow it. The drawback is that the growing tree can not be left for long, or the Livewood enchantment will "burst" and the tree will become mundane. A properly tended Livewood tree can provide for the Livewood needs of many fey. Those Fay whose primary goal is the care of a Livewood tree (or a small grove of them) are called Dryads.

Extensive groves of livewood trees exist near to the Great Tree. These enchanted trees are nearly always inhabited by wild Fay or demi-fay creatures. Such livewood groves are usually a dangerous place. Wielded Livewood trees can resemble Lindora, but are fundamentally different, and will become inanimate when nothing is controlling them. The signature difference between Lindora and Livewood is that Lindora generally have jaws and long tentacles, whereas a wielded Livewood tree can rapidly grow or retract "limbs" and change shape.

Rogue Livewood

The Livewood enchantment will never "come to life" on its own. However, very small Fay (or colonies of such Fay) can live entirely within a piece of Livewood, causing it to behave in unpredictable ways. Fay battlefields, littered with Livewood fragments, often develop whole flocks of such rogue Livewood. Some fey prefer to wield Rogue Livewood, as long as the Fay colony within can control its motions, and the item can be left to itself without fear of it bursting. The drawback is that these small Fay have notoriously short lifespans and memories, and can be difficult to communicate with. A loyal piece of Rogue Livewood is an extremely valuable posession, but one never knows when it might capriciously turn on its "owner" or become entirely unresponsive.

Applications

Livewood has a great number of uses. Scraps and splinters of livewood are common and nearly all fey carry a few as bracelets, earrings, and pendants for everyday use.

Common uses

A small piece of Livewood can be employed as a variety of tools, including:

  • eating utensil
  • wedge or chisel (if tapered)
  • knife (if one edge is sharp)
  • brush (by creating many small thin shoots)

A generally cylindrical piece of Livewood with a hollow cavity in the center can be easily formed into a cup, bowl, or bottle. To seal the container, the opening can be contracted around a stopper of smooth stone. Powerful Fay use gemstones, livewood, or even other fay as stoppers.

Many Fay use occasional livewood panels around their homes as door/window locations. They can be easily closed during inclement weather, and quickly repaired if damaged.

Livewood Staff

Since the Fay are harmed by the presence of conductive metals they developed an alternative melee weapon. Runed staves carved from Livewood are potent weapons. In the hands of a skilled wielder the staff can rapidly change in length and flexibility. Even mech armored zarth fear a livewood master at the height of his art.

The Livewood staff is often embedded with sharp stones to provide a hard striking surface. Alternatively, naturally thorny plants are chosen for Livewood weapons, as they can "sprout" thorns on command.

A personal Livewood staff nearly always has a few livewood shoots sprouted and grown to conform perfectly to the owner's hand. The grasping surface, too, is carved to fit the wielder. In this way, one can nearly always match a personal Livewood staff to its owner, and vice versa.

A formal duel may consist entirely of the opponents both (all) grasping a new livewood staff and wrestling for authority over the enchantment.

Since control of Livewood can be wrested from its owner, Livewood combat among Fay usually involves quick strikes, giving the victim little time to attempt to dominate the enchantment. The Livewood Staff can mimic the qualities of such human weapons as:

  • Quarterstaff (uniformely straight, and hard)
  • Club (making one end hard and heavy)
  • Whip (making one end thin and pliable)
  • Bow (curved, with a thin flexible sprout to act as the string). A Livewood bow can both be "drawn" without effort, and held in a "drawn" position indefinitely. The speed of the "firing" depends on the strength of the wielder (to hold the bow drawn as the Livewood pulls against it) and the strength of the enchantment (to change shape rapidly enough to launch the arrow).
  • Arrow (sharpened at one end, with leaf "feathers" at the back). If a piece of Rogue Livewood can be convinced to do so, the arrow will steer itself in flight to "seek" the target.
  • Spear (long and sharpened at one end)

When fighting creatures that can not control the Livewood enchantment (most non-Fay) the most common (frighteningly effective) technique is:

  • Entangle, ensnare, or otherwise immobilize the opponent with long Livewood rope.
  • Send shoots into the victim's ears, eyes, or other cavities.
  • Cause the ends of the shoots to swell, bursting the victim from the inside.

Livewood Armor

Plates of livewood that can be strapped on by causing them to grow sprouts around the wearer's limbs. Depending on the location, a slab of Livewood could be used as buckler, pauldrons, helmet, etc. A skilled Livewood Wearer can:

  • Repair his armor during battle, causing it to grow back together.
  • Reach out and "catch" an incoming weapon with a Livewood shoot. This dissipates the impact over a relatively long time window.
  • Cause shoots to grab and hold weapons that are "caught", rendering them useless to an attacker.
  • Grapple opponents with their armor, entwining them with Livewood shoots. (Only practical against non-Fay, as a Fay may merely dominate the armor, and end up wearing it instead of you!)