Monday, June 9, 2014

The Peyotl

Which came first, the Peyotl or the Saguaro? Soft, spineless, limbless, and sessile, the Peyotl are a subtle, deceptive, manipulative, and highly intelligent plant race. They have to be; after all, they have no limbs and always need others to do things for them.

The litter-borne Peyotl are another post-Cataclysmic cactus species. They are a close relative of the Saguaro. Like their more mobile kinfolk, the Peyotl have backtimed, and scattered across many worlds and times. However, their diaspora has not been as successful as that of the Saguaro. They occupy a number of worlds beyond the Imperial Extents, but are rarely seen within the Empire itself, as their species is considered highly inimical to Humanity.

They Peyotl are subtle slavers. Their cells produce numerous addictive and psychoactive substances, and they have the capacity to modify their flesh to produce special organs that facilitate the dissemination of these substances in the air and water, and through fleshy dispensations of drug buttons. Even more uncanny is their ability to affect other species through direct psychic manipulation. The Peyotl have psi-organs with the ability to simulate human brain functions. They use these structures to model the effects of the psychoactive substances that their body produces, psi-projecting those effects directly into nearby human minds as hallucinations and various other affects.

Humans who live in proximity to the Peyotl loose all capacity for true self-governance, although human polities will continue to be led by ever more refined aristocratic castes. The Peyotl are happy to rule behind the scenes, as scientific and political advisers, prime ministers, government officials, and oracles. They gradually replace human policy-making and political debate with ritual and vegetal procedure. Humans diversify into myriad social and racial castes under the Peyotl's subtle rule: both minds and genomes are manipulated and transformed through the Peyotl's constant experiments. Some humans even have strange tumorous growths on their foreheads: perhaps attempts at neural repression, perhaps experiments with the desuppression of the pineal gland.

The Saguaro who accompany Peyotl are likewise anything but their equals. They are as inferior as the ever-drugged human slaves who bear the litters of the Peyotl-folk and who worship them as Green Gods. In the presence of Peyotl, the Saguaro are reduced; they are capable of little more than being loyal foot soldiers of the Peyotl. For example, Saguaro in the presence of Peyotl can never use spells.

These cactus people are inspired by Nathalie Henneberg's The Green Gods (1961). Henneberg's work is a possible inspiration for the manipulative fungal overlords of  Jeff VanderMeer's Finch.


Intelligent cacti (inimical)

  • High Concept: Manipulative cactus overlord
  • Trouble: No physical defenses
  • Aspect: Like sun but hate fire
  • Aspect: Others carry them
  • Aspect: A drug haze surrounds them
  • Careful: +3
  • Clever: +4 
  • Flashy: +2
  • Forceful: 0
  • Quick: 0
  • Sneaky: +2
  • Command Plants - Take +2 to Flashy Approach to Create an Advantage with other plants (this is a psi-charismatic leadership ability)
  • Plant Telepathy - Peyotl can communicate flawlessly with any nearby plant or animal.
  • Purple Haze -   Take +2 to Sneaky Approach to Attack humans or animals with a haze of psychoactive drugs
  • Psi-Sensorium - Peyotl have 360 degree perception (sight, sound/vibration, heat) for up to 3 zones; declines by 1 step for every successive zone after 3
  • The Flesh is Willing - Once per session, Peyotl may create a new organ to produce or secrete drugs or psychoactive substances.

Note: Peyotl may know two Enchantment, Illusion, or Planar spells for every additional point of Refresh spent.


  1. Nicely done--I picked up a copy of the Henneberg's book (She wrote with her husband), last summer and only got to reading it during my unplanned hiatus due to illness. A strange book, but well worth reading. I've started learning French off-and-on, mostly off, for a number of years, and may dive into it a bit more earnestly partly because of some of the un-translated books like Henneberg's The Plague, that I would really like to read. Sis you detect any sort of link to Wyndham's Triffids, or Well's The Flowering of the Strange Orchid, in this book?

    I'm always happy to see someone else digging-up obscure and forgotten classics to mine like this!

    1. This one's right up there with Raymond Harris' "The Broken Worlds", a forgotten classic which you recommended a while ago. I think you are probably right about the Wyndham and Wells references also. There are definitely some fierce and demanding orchids in the book.